The business elite who prove that you can be rich and play fair

Britain's biggest taxpayers

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#1 David Harding

Chairman and head of research at Winton Capital Management. His earnings last year included part of £52.76m dividend for 2010. Highest-paid director on £11.786m

Mr Harding studied theoretical physics at Cambridge but switched to stock-broking and, later, commodity futures. He founded Winton, a £26bn hedge fund, to show that a financial operation can be run on scientific principles. Mr Harding sponsors a statistics and risk professorship at Cambridge and is a patron of similar research at Berlin's Max Planck Institute. Although a big Tory donor, he said in 2011: "There is too great a tendency to see everything as a plot against the British." He disagrees with George Osborne that a financial transactions tax would be "a bullet aimed at the heart of London". He has said nothing in public about personal taxation.

#2 Mark Coombs

Chief executive of the fund manager Ashmore Group. In 2010-11 he was paid £43.292m in dividends and £4.909m in salary

Mr Coombs, 51, studied law at Cambridge. He started Ashmore as a new division of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. He led a lucrative management buyout in 1999, while keeping a 42 per cent stake, then took the firm public in 2006, raising $2bn. Ashmore now has more than £41bn of assets under management. Dividends paid to Mr Coombs are linked to a jump in the company's annual earnings. His personal wealth of almost £1.5bn makes him one of Britain's richest self-made financiers. He says little about what he thinks the Government is, or should be doing, with his taxes but he seems happy to be living in Wimbledon rather than Monaco.

#3 The Adderley family

The Leicestershire-based founders of the Dunelm Mill home furnishings business. Recent dividend to the family of £47m

In 1969, Bill and Jean Adderley launched a ready-made curtains business from a market stall in Leicester. They, and their son Will, grew the company into a family-owned firm listed on the London Stock Exchange and valued at about £1bn. The first Dunelm Mill store opened in Churchgate, Leicester, in 1984 and there are now more than 125 branches in the UK. The Adderleys retain 56.2 per cent of the stock and their overall worth is £710m. They have made no major comment on taxation, but company insiders say the family value living in the place that is the source of their wealth.

#4 Colm O'Shea

Founding partner and chief investment officer at COMAC Capital. In 2010-11 he received £33.89m from the partnership

Mr O'Shea was born in County Kerry in Ireland but moved to England at an early age before studying economics at Cambridge. He started at Citigroup, then worked for George Soros's Quantum Fund. Mr O'Shea founded COMAC in 2006 and its partners now manage assets worth £5bn. He was one of the few financiers to forecast the scale of the US slowdown, and is on record as saying: "Those who like trading because they like gambling are going to be terrible at it." Although COMAC says it factors in "political analysis" to its calculations, Mr O'Shea is reluctant to say what this means. His publicist said he "rarely speaks to the media ... and tax isn't something he'd want to comment on."

#5 Massimo Gini

Group chairman of FX Corporation PLC. Awarded dividend of £33.5m in 2011

Mr Gini was born in Italy in 1946 and moved to England at 24. He founded FX, a retail financial services company operating in wire transfers, overseas property transactions, foreign currency exchange, travellers cheques and international banking drafts. The Eurochange currency exchange outlets are part of FX and were among the first non-banking institutions licensed by the Bank of England. Now 66, he spends much of his time running his charity, Sustain for Life, which helps the poor in the least developed countries. "It's our collective duty to help our fellow human beings, particularly the vulnerable," he says.

#6 Henry Engelhardt

Chief executive, Admiral group PLC. Dividend of £29.72m and salary of £358,000 in 2011

The Chicagoan is probably the only executive on our list to have flipped burgers at a branch of McDonald's. Having failed to get a media job after studying journalism, he turned to futures brokerage and eventually insurance. Head-hunted by a small insurance start-up in 1991, he turned Admiral into FTSE 100 company which today insures more than one in 10 cars on Britain's roads and trades in six countries, including the US. Mr Engelhardt is married with four children and lives in Cardiff. The £3bn business he built from scratch is Wales's largest public company. He is happy to talk insurance but less public with his views about taxation.

#7 Michael Spencer

Chief executive of ICAP. Dividend last year of £23.776m plus salary of £5.506m

Mr Spencer, 57, founded ICAP in 1986 and it is now the world's leading interdealer broker. He uses his substantial wealth as a political platform and is a major donor to the Conservatives. He was the party's treasurer from 2007 to 2010 and says that facts UK about taxation are clear: "We hear the rich must pay more: well, the rich are paying much more. Losing mobile high earners because of the highest tax rates in the developed world is a great and increasing loss. We need to realise quickly we cannot tax our way back to growth." He has said that if the EU unilaterally introduces a financial transactions tax, he will move ICAP out of the EU.

#8 Ayman Asfari

Chief executive of Petrofac. Dividend of £21.78m with £1.59m salary and bonus last year

A consulting engineer who was born in Syria, Mr Asfari, 54, joined Petrofac in 1991 and turned it into a world-ranked gas and oil services group. His singular focus on growth for Petrofac, which he took public on the London Stock Exchange in 2005, has delivered annual revenues exceeding $4bn.Married with four children, he lives in London and runs a charitable foundation that spent £4m last year. He doesn't make public his views on tax but one comment would have made Downing Street smile: "What entrepreneurs have in common is self-belief, huge drive and energy, and a goal to make it work."

#9 Nigel and Trevor Green

Co-owners of the Entertainment Group. Last year, the brothers shared a dividend of £40m

The sons of media tycoon Michael Green, who died in 2003, have carved a path towards super-wealth in their film and TV distribution company. The success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy plus other distribution and DVD rights to recent blockbusters, and the supply of films to BSkyB and terrestrial channels, have turned the company founded by their father in 1978 into a major player in the film industry. But being in the communications industry doesn't necessarily mean that the brothers want to make public their views on the sensitive subject of tax. One For The Money is a named film project for 2012, and that's about as much taxation commentary as most will get out of the brothers' offices in Jermyn Street, central London.

#10 Sir Martin Sorrell

Chief executive of WPP. £12.961m salary in 2011, plus £3.378m dividend

Sir Martin, who was educated at Cambridge and Harvard, steers one of the world's largest advertising and communications companies. His background as finance director at Saatchi and Saatchi led him to rewrite the rule-book on hostile takeovers. WPP is a global business worth £11bn, with Sir Martin's stake put at £150m.

On a recent trip to China, he told The Independent what he thought of the UK's tax regime and why he had not become a tax exile. "I didn't see the logic of [George Osborne] reducing the rate of income tax – particularly at a time when we are trying to reduce the deficit," he said. "What they could have said was, 'look we think the 50p rate is wrong, so during the rest of this Parliament we'll reduce it to 45 or 40p.' … I've been asked recently about Nick Clegg and his wealth tax.

In the UK, it's difficult to argue that people who earn more money or have greater wealth should not make a greater contribution at times of great difficulty … The burden of taxation has to be shifted from savings and income to consumption … You should tax people at the point of consumption and if you want to penalise the wealthy you could penalise their consumption at the top end … I haven't considered [becoming a tax exile] yet because you never know what is going to happen."

#11 Denise Coates

Managing director of bet365. Fifty per cent share of £25m dividend. Plus a salary of £4m.

Ms Coates founded the online betting group in 2000. It now has seven million regular users, operates in 200 countries and, with 1,900 staff, is the largest private employer in Stoke-on-Trent. Ms Coates, an econometrician, moved her family's betting shop empire into the emerging online market. With its latest full-year revenue estimated at £646m and profits at £116m, bet365 is regarded as an industry innovator that pushes technology boundaries. Substantial profits go to subsidise the family's other passion – Stoke City FC. For the foreseeable future, the Treasury and bet365 will remain good friends.

#12 Jonathan Ruffer

Chairman of Ruffer investment management. Paid £1.74m in dividends and, as its highest-paid director, a salary of £11.81m

Claims to have spent his twenties "being useless at everything", including his training as a barrister at London's Middle Temple. Mr Ruffer, the founder of a successful investment company that manages billions for its private clients, is moving into his sixties and easing himself out of the pilot's seat. Born in Stokesley, near Middlesbrough, he is also looking to put something back into the North-East of England. He has increasingly become more open about how he thinks the Government is doing, and suggests that there are "no insights as to the shocks ahead for the economy".