Scotland advertised across Eastern Europe as tax haven
SCOTLAND is being advertised as a tax haven across Eastern Europe.
The country’s allegedly lax company formation laws are being promoted by firms in Latvia, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus as authorities black list more traditional “fiscal paradises”.
A new round of publicity for Scotland as an “offshore zone” began this month, more than six months after it was alleged that $1 billion had been funnelled out of poverty-stricken Moldova through Scottish shell companies.
One piece on the website of Belarus television station Varyag said: “A company operating in the UK does not need to register with the tax authorities and is therefore automatically freed from any tax payments on an absolutely legal basis.
“Having registered a company in Scotland, by using offshore rules, you do not need to carry out any audits and, furthermore, there is no requirement to provide financial reports.”
The TV station stressed the kudos of Scotland being in Britain. “As a result of Scotland being part of the United Kingdom it does not fall in to the black list of offshore zones.”
The Herald has found numerous recent adverts for company formation in Scotland, specifically of limited partnerships.
The number of limited partnerships in Scotland has more than doubled from just over 6,000 to nearly 15,000 since 2009.
The country now has more of these firms than England and Wales put together.
Scottish Labour raised questions about this last summer after an international investigation into the alleged fraud of three Moldovan banks uncovered that some of the companies used were in Scotland.
Andy Wightman, land reform spokesman for the Scottish Greens, said: “The Scottish Government should be saying loud and clear that reporting and transparency rules should be overhauled since it appears that Scotland is generating a shameful reputation as a place to launder money.”Labour’s Jackie Baillie said: “It is extraordinary that Scotland is being described as an offshore tax zone. Somebody should be looking long and hard at how to close this loophole.”
The Scottish Government has previously said that company formation rules are reserved to Westminster.
A spokesman said that this was also the case with corporation tax. But added: “We are determined to act decisively on tax avoidance where we have powers to do so.
“We have legislated for a general anti-avoidance rule for the devolved taxes, which is significantly wider than the UK’s anti-abuse rule that enables Revenue Scotland to take robust action to counteract tax avoidance.”