Good governance requires assets to be onshore
In an article in the Financial Times published on 13 April, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber called for wealthy people to bring their assets back onshore.
The article explained that Sheikh Mohamed was urging his fellow billionaires to bring their wealth back onshore, in part because it would enhance good governance. Sheikh Mohamed wound up his offshore trusts and brought his money onshore some years ago and now holds just a few remaining offshore assets.
“I think a lot of people will follow,” Sheikh Mohamed added. “Here [in the UK] you have the power of the state behind you and a guarantee of stable systems, as well as the rule of law and good governance.”
He made it clear that for him it was important to be seen acting within the spirit and letter of the law, especially given his track record of activism in the Gulf, where he has frequently called for improved taxation. “I have been demanding a tax regime within the Gulf states for the past 15 years, something my business friends say I am crazy to do. But it is one way to save the state and bring rewards to you and your children. It galvanises against corruption — and is the way to accountability.”
Sheikh Mohamed’s view was supported by Richard Ross, philanthropist and chairman of the Rosetrees Trust, which funds medical research. “No one likes paying tax but it is a necessary evil,” he said. “It took 30 years for the antismoking campaign to become really effective. Surely guidance to lawyers, accountants and bankers should stop those wanting to pay no tax in the foreseeable future.”
Sheikh Mohamed said that in addition to improving governance, there are also compelling commercial reasons. He said, that “for me it makes business sense” to have his assets in the UK. Sheikh Mohamed’s comments follow the unprecedented leak of documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which highlighted the widespread use of offshore trusts to house wealth.
Sheikh Mohamed, the founder and chief executive of MBI Group, said there was also a compelling strategic reason for his shift. Consolidating assets in London provides a “competitive advantage”, he said. “I think it is cheaper in the long term. My people think it is a saving” he added.
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