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Corbyn’s City-bashing guru is advocate for tax havens

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

The mastermind of Jeremy Corbyn’s planned raid on the City is this weekend revealed as a supporter and user of the offshore tax havens on which the Labour leader has pledged a crackdown.

Prof Avinash Persaud has played a crucial role developing Labour policies to tax the City, winning praise from shadow chancellor John McDonnell for designing a “comprehensive” financial transactions tax “that doesn’t leave loopholes”.

Mr McDonnell signalled last month that work by Prof Persaud’s consultancy, Intelligence Capital, would act as a blueprint under a Corbyn government.

The banker appears to have radically different views from Labour on other areas of tax policy, however. He has repeatedly jumped to the defence of small countries that offer wealthy individuals shelter from taxes, arguing attacks on offshore havens are “illegitimate”.

Prof Persaud has called EU blacklisting of countries over tax “an act of gross discriminatory bullying”.

In 2009 he wrote that an “attack on offshore centres is a politically seductive distraction”.

Last week, Mr Corbyn said he would target “tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax havens”.

“If you’re doing some very clever wheeze, which somehow or other is avoiding your levels of taxation, you should be paying,” he said.

Mr Persaud, 53, has had a long career in finance, including roles at JPMorgan and UBS. He has advised the Treasury and is a director of Elara Capital, an investment bank that, according to Companies House filings, has most of its funds based in Mauritius and Bermuda. Both are considered tax havens and have been blacklisted by the EU, although were removed this year.

Elara Capital, which is incorporated in the UK, reported a pre-tax profit of £3.4m last year, on which after adjustments including “foreign tax adjustments” it registered a tax credit of more than £52,000.

Such structures appear counter to Labour doctrine under Mr Corbyn. When it was revealed that David Cameron’s father had funds in a Panamanian trust, Mr Corbyn demanded a “full account of all his private financial dealings” and “complete openness”. This year he accused the Conservatives of “turning a blind eye” to tax havens.

Prof Persaud said: “My work is not a defence of tax havens, but a critique of the way that lists of tax havens are highly discriminatory.”