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Michael Ashcroft dodges taxes in the UK with Trusts- Where does Belize Fit? Print E-mail
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Thursday, 09 November 2017 00:00

Over the weekend a large batch of leaked documents dubbed the Paradise Papers from the law firm Appleby as well as corporate registries in 19 tax jurisdictions hit the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Among the documents were disclosures that Michael Ashcroft, had formed a Trust in 2000 in Bermuda where he placed hundreds of millions of dollars. Named the Punta Gorda Trust, Ashcroft apparently circumvented the rules of the trust and went above the trustees to use money without approval.

This has sent out alarm bells in the UK where Ashcroft has been juggling to avoid taxation for years. Along with the papers came a report by the BBC’s Panorama where Ashcroft was questioned by journalist Richard Bilton. All he’d say was dear, dear, dear. Evasion of tax is something that Ashcroft has also been known for in Belize. In the previous administration he was given huge tax breaks usually prompted by indebtedness which the Musa administration had gotten into with his affiliate companies like the Belize Bank and BTL and finally ending with him getting tax breaks.

And relics of his penchant to form trusts continue in Belize, most recently he did very much the same thing with a portion of the BTL settlement payment for Belize being made to a trust where the country would supposedly have had access to finances to fund projects for the benefit of Belizeans. Prime Minister Barrow had explained that more than likely the country would get very limited benefit from this trust and has resigned himself to this.

And while that is one trust we know of, there yet another that rings very much like the Punta Gorda Trust, that is the BTL Employees Trust. Under the most recent payment which will be made before Friday of this week, the Trust will receive US $15,314,006.84. What is noteworthy about this trust is that while it bears the name of the employees of BTL, and they are named as beneficiaries, they have not received a single benefit from it. We suspect that this trust was simply made, very much like the Punta Gorda Trust, to avoid taxes.(see page 7 for the structure of the BTL employees Trust)

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 November 2017 15:24