Olympics Torch: It’s a joke

Lakshmi Mittal is a torchbearer without a hometown.

Today he will be carrying the Flame through the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, selected by LOCOG as one of the 8000 inspirational people.

Lakshmi Mittal retained his crown as Britain’s richest man despite losing almost a quarter of his wealth over the past year following a fall in the share value of his ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker.

The Indian-born businessman saw his personal worth slide by £4.8 billion to £12.7 billion, but that was still enough to keep him narrowly on top of the list.

That’s inspiring, isn’t it?

This year, the fee that Lakshmi Mittal pays the British government in order to avoid paying any income tax in the UK, went up from £30,000 to £50,000. That’s how Danny Alexander is “coming to get you” if you’ve got £12.7 billion.

This is a perfectly legal piece of tax avoidance. So long as Lakshmi Mittal identifies himself to the Inland Revenue as non-domiciled – the UK is not his home, he’s just passing through – he pays no tax here.

That’s inspiring, isn’t it?

(The torchbearer page used to identify Lakshmi Mittal’s hometown as London. I imagine when the head tax lawyer of his tax accountants noticed that, LOCOG had to take it down pretty smartly. Wouldn’t do to offend such an inspirationally big donor.)

Lakshmi Mittal can be found on NDTV complaining that the Indian government haven’t been giving him enough money either. Because giving big industrialists like himself lots of money is how best to help millions of poor people.

“The Indian government must concentrate on smoothening the path for foreign investors…there are understandable challenges in India relating to land acquisition and raw materials, but nevertheless the government must find a way to overcome these road-blocks more swiftly.”

That’s inspiring, isn’t it?

The world says we’ve been complaining “more than usual“. After all, ground to air missiles poised to create a Lockerbie out of London, politicians screwing us over with a smile, G4S’s plans to use workfare security and Theresa May’s failure to resign over the shambles, more British soldiers in London than in Afghanistan, really, what have we got to complain about? I’m sure if you go to the Olympics you’ll have a fine time.

But to go back to our inspiring tax avoider, the man with no hometown, Lakshmi Mittal: who decided that he was the most inspiring man that could be found to carry the torch through Kensington?

At a guess – he did. Lakshmi and Aditya Mittal are CEO and Chief Financial Officer of ArcelorMittal, one of the sponsoring firms who can avoid paying tax within the Olympic village, and who got to nominate some torchbearers. Lakshmi Mittal nominated himself.

Or possibly made clear what he wanted to his employees and sat back and looked surprised as they told him how inspiring he was. He has fired 70,000 steelworkers since he became CEO.

That’s inspiring, isn’t it?

The Olympics are all about avoiding tax:

Stratford, East London, will become a temporary tax haven. Millions of pounds will be channelled through foreign subsidiary companies operating in the area before it leaves these shores for the pockets of shareholders and CEOs the world over.

How is this possible in a country like the UK you might ask? The sad fact is that enacting tax avoidance legislation has now become a criteria for hosting international competitions such as the Olympics.

Big name athletes such as Usain Bolt (along with the organisers) have applied pressure to potential host nations to ensure that winnings (and profits) are not taxed.

So perhaps it is genuinely appropriate that one of the last torchbearers on the Olympic relay is Britain’s biggest tax dodger.

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2 Comments

Filed under Olympics, Tax Avoidance

2 responses to “Olympics Torch: It’s a joke

  1. And let us not forget that this whole Torch Relay is in fact a tribute to Hitler and the Third Reich, and for me at least, the whole uncritical, almost religious adoring coverage from the media to be sickening.

  2. Glynis

    Don’t know about the Hitler comment, but I definitely agree with the sickening coverage of the torch relay we’ve seen. Instead of the worthy being significantly represented, for the most part, they were outnumbered by the never were and let’s hope they never will be!

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