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PwC dragged over the coals by MPs

MPs enraged and frustrated over PricewaterhouseCooper’s role in corporate tax avoidance dragged the firm over the coals in Westminster, looking for answers.

Parliament was awash with dramatic posturing recently, with Kevin Nicholson, PwC’s tax chief, getting grilled long and hard about the company’s corporate tax avoidance practices in Luxembourg. Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, let Nicholson have it with both barrels in the wake of a leak detailing the tax arrangements of countless firms.

Well, not countless exactly – the leaked documents named 343 different companies that PwC aided in reducing their tax liabilities through process known as a ‘hybrid loan.’ In other words, a firm ‘pays the interest’ on a loan that it made to itself through a subsidiary in Luxembourg; suddenly, all that cash is no longer taxable. It’s bollocks, but apparently it’s legal… though this didn’t exactly fill Hodge with sweetness and light. In fact, she came out and said that it’s nothing more than ‘a mass marketed tax avoidance scheme,’ and for what it’s worth I have to agree with her!

Honestly I’m not surprised that Hodge is going at it hammer and tongs with Nicholson, especially how she’s angling to be next Labour candidate for Mayor of London. She’s certainly showing her teeth here, making it obvious that she’s unafraid to take on big businesses. She even didn’t let Nicholson’s barely veiled sexist insult faze her either; the PwC chief said that the firm was just selling advice, and that it was nothing ‘like buying a dress in Marks and Spencers.’

I beg your pardon, but that statement is completely out of line on Nicholson’s part. Did he use the example of a dress because Hodge was a woman? Or is he just a bloody idiot? There’s no way to know for sure, I”m afraid – but I’m rather convinced that it’s quite a bit of both cases if you ask me. This Nicholson bloke sounds like a real pillock to me. I hope Hodge chews him up and spits him out, right on the floor of Westminster. That’s probably a bit too good for him though, especially considered how he and his firm have been instructing customers to engage in tax avoidance. Quite literally telling them to sneak off with big bags of cash and taking them to Luxembourg. What a rotten bastard!


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