High life | 21 April 2016

Legality being my middle name, I followed advice to steer well clear of the likes of Mossack Fonseca

High life | 21 April 2016
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My, my, the rich are under attack everywhere, and I thank God the Panama Papers didn’t include the name of the poor little Greek boy. Legality being my middle name, I took legal advice and stayed away from offshore trusts and shell companies as soon as my daddy died. Steer clear of Mossack Fonseca, they advised; everything’s gotta be on the up and up, which means that I now depend on the munificence of my children and their mother for walking-around money — and that includes change for coffee and a pack of fags now and then. Mind you, it beats being on a Panama list and having all those hacks poring over my not-so-hard-earned moolah.

What bothers me is how the word rich has now become a pejorative term. Even my friend Alexander Chancellor used it as an insult a couple of weeks ago when he wrote in these pages ‘written by a rich, fat businessman....’ which immediately sets up the reader to dislike the person he’s referring to. What I’d like to remind Alexander is that it was a rich, fat businessman who gave him the editorship of The Spectator 41 years ago, one Henry Keswick. Mind you, it was yet another contributor, Toby Young, who pointed out that the Guardian jackals cackling over the Panama Papers were themselves the beneficiaries of tax-exempt shell companies in the Cayman Islands. If that’s not hypocrisy with a capital ‘H’, my name is Goldman Sachs.

Where wealth is concerned, we’re now back in the early Seventies, before Maggie came into the picture and hand-bagged the envious class warriors to oblivion. Corbyn and his motley crew — this Tom Watson character should be tarred and feathered for attacking people who cannot defend themselves, always under the protection of parliamentary immunity — hate anybody who’s got a hint of wealth, forgetting the fact that no matter how hard we try, we can’t all sink to Watson’s and Corbyn’s level. That some can rig the system to hide their wealth is unjust, but so is the fact that journalists at the Guardian can spout about unfairness and the rich while the trust that feeds them put assets down in the sunny Caribbean. Let’s face it, taxation is a form of state theft, so the smart ones will always find ways to ensure that the state steals the minimum from them. But linking Dave Cameron with tax cheats is Orwellian, the truth being a lie and vice versa. It just shows how desperate the class warriors are; before we know it they’ll be auditing Jeremy Clarke’s tax returns for having associated with yours truly and spent a night in Tim Hoare’s house.

Needless to say, the unelected and incompetent crooks that run the EU are wading into the fight against international tax-dodging. But not to worry; if they handle it as competently as they did the migrant crisis, Amazon and Google will probably get a rebate for the taxes they’ve avoided until now. The double standards reek of hypocrisy. Facebook is hosting sprawling online bazaars offering anti-aircraft weapons and even guided missiles, and the hacks are going on about Uncle Vlad Putin, whose name didn’t even appear on the Panama list. The FBI was frantically trying to gain access to the iPhone of those murderers in the San Bernardino massacre, and Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to play ball in case those the killers had been talking to had their names revealed. It might make the company look bad. It makes you wish that someone would shoot Cook up the ass, but such just things never happen, do they?

And there are some good reasons why people use offshore structures. Did you by any chance know that if an American dies with property worth, say, $5 million, the heirs pay no federal estate tax. But if a foreigner dies with $5 million in American property, the heirs pay 40 per cent? So the foreigner sticks his five million in a shell company and registers it with Fonseca and everything’s hunky dory. Uncle Sam is not playing fair and square — not that there’s a lot of fairness around nowadays. Take the example of the poor little Greek boy. Donald Trump’s son-in-law, married to Ivanka, is one Jared Kushner, the son of a real-estate shark who has done hard time in the pokey for tax fraud. He owns a New York weekly that regularly attacks the mother of my children, a woman who has never put a foot wrong or been unjust to anyone. Her crime, I suppose, is that she’s married to me, but if I were the son of a fraudster, I’d pick on others and leave Alexandra Schoenburg alone. Not only that, I was the first one to come out for The Donald nine months ago. Kushner should be waterboarded.

But I shouldn’t complain. Life is good and there are far worse cases of injustice. Such as my good friend Wafic Said having been treated appallingly by the ridiculous Barclays Bank. Here is Britain’s premier philanthropist, a man who has never been able to say no to demands for help, and the most ridiculous of people, the bankers at Barclays, refuse to offer their services because Wafic is rich and a Syrian. What the hell is this world coming to?