Why the twin stories of Dave Hartnett and Osita Mba mean you should be out with UK Uncut on the 17th
A bit over a year ago, UK Uncut began, occupying a Vodafone store in central London in protest against the tax dodge which Private Eye exposed that they claimed was £6bn, but HMRC settled for just £1.25bn.
The man in charge of HMRC, who apparently did the deal, is Dave Hartnett.
Dave Hartnett did another deal, with Goldman Sachs, where he (allegedly illegally) let them off £10m in interest on a tax dodge. This incident was brought to light by Osita Mba.
Last week, it emerged that one of these men will retire next year, whilst the other is being disciplined and threatened with the sack for his actions.
Of course, you already know which is which. Dave Hartnett, who in his job as chief taxman, has let hugely profitable multinational companies off tax bills, is to be allowed to retire, to a comfortable pension and no doubt to any number of non-executive directorships for the companies he’s worked so hard for at HMRC, or the tax dodging divisions of the accountancy firms who find loopholes to exploit and sell to companies who don’t want to pay their part towards the public services they depend on for their business.
He is not suspended, pending an inquiry and possibly a court case, concerning his behaviour towards these companies, and asking why, in his role as chief taxman, did he let them off their bills? I ran a small ltd company, and on the occasion I paid my corporation tax late, there was no way they were going to let me off my fine. Perhaps if I’d been able to book a dinner with Dave, a different outcome might have awaited me, and I’d be £100 better off right now.
Meanwhile, Osita Mba, the HMRC solicitor who blew the whistle on the Goldman Sachs deal, has been suspended, and is facing disciplinary procedures. The Guardian say he could be sacked, but I don’t think this is possible, as there is protection for whistleblowers in law, and such a sacking could be considered automatically unfair (ianal disclaimer applies of course). HMRC might sack him anyway, and take the hit of compensation at the tribunal of course, or exploit something else to sack him.
This is clearly a disgrace, Osita should be rewarded for whistleblowing, not punished, and being disciplined will deter other whistleblowers from coming forward.
He may have saved the taxpayer £10m directly, and far, far more from exposing the cosy relationship between HMRC and major multinationals and helping to bring about change.
For a bit of context, Birmingham City Council are currently looking at closing 5 childrens’ homes in Birmingham, including two that provide respite care for disabled children, in order to save around £7m. Goldman Sachs meanwhile, made a profit of $2.7 Billion in the first quarter of 2011
HMRC need to know that if they do not reinstate him quickly then this will become an issue for them. That Osita is supported by a campaign network in solidarity with his actions to help bring about tax justice.
Osita needs our solidarity and support right now. That is why you should be on the streets with #UKUncut on Saturday.
In Birmingham, we’ll meet outside Moor Street train station, at 2pm, and decide where to go from there. Vague ideas about street theatre have been hatched, and if we can get a santa outfit, we’ll be handing out christmas presents in the form of public services to hard working tax payers, only to have them snatched away by tax dodgers..
You can see where else has actions planned on the UK Uncut website – if there’s not one near you, why not ring round some friends and organise one – there’s a guide to planning an action as well.
Also, if you have some spare cash, please make a donation to UK Uncut Legal, who are seeking to take legal action against HMRC over the Goldman Sachs case. If successful, this could see the return of millions of pounds to the treasury, and may open up legal challenges to other tax deals.
#ff @UKUncut @UKUncutLegal @BirminghamUncut #ositamba #ukuncut