Roux in pension appeal

Richard Phillips
Saturday 19 April 1997 23:02

Michel Roux, the star-rated Michelin chef, co-owner with his brother Albert of the famous Waterside Inn at Bray, Berkshire, has decided to fight an Inland Revenue charge of pounds 400,000 on his pension imposed by the High Court earlier this month.

Mr Roux preferred not to comment on the appeal, but Ian Altug, of accountants Hacker Young, said: "Mr Roux admits that his action was designed to mitigate a tax liability but believes he acted in good faith and did not expect the strategy he followed to have any adverse consequence for the company or his wife." Mrs Roux, who knew nothing about the arrangements, may lose all her pension fund of some pounds 300,000 in an original scheme.

Mr Roux, 55, runs the Waterside Inn, which boasts three Michelin stars. Last year he provided the Queen and other members of the Royal Family with a highly-publicised "takeaway" to celebrate her 70th birthday at Frogmore House in Windsor. The family's restaurants also include Le Gavroche in Mayfair.

The appeal centres on Mr Roux's decision, acting on advice from his accountants, in July 1995 to transfer pounds 900,000 out of an old occupational pension scheme he shared with his wife, Robyn, into a new scheme.

As a consequence, the old scheme dating back to 1988, which had contained pounds 1.3m, lost its official approval. The Revenue penalised the move with a 40 per cent charge on the funds.

Mr Roux had made the transfer to avoid paying tax in the belief it was entirely legitimate. The Revenue contested the deal. The case reached the High Court, where a fortnight ago Mr Justice Tucker declared: "Whether the tax avoidance scheme worked or not, the Revenue were justified in withdrawing approval for the old scheme."

Mr Roux wanted to move the funds into a new occupational pension scheme because the annuity rates in the old scheme were so low, said Mr Altug, that he was losing out on the value of the capital invested.

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