MPs turn on Amazon over tax
Amazon bosses will be recalled to face another grilling by the Public Accounts Committee over the firm's tax arrangements, after a senior representative of the firm was heavily criticised by MPs today.
Committee chair Margaret Hodge turned on Amazon director Andrew Cecil for feigning "ignorance" over the firm's tax arrangements and accused him of offering MPs "no information".
Mr Cecil was appearing before the committee alongside representatives from Google and Starbucks, to face questioning over allegations of tax avoidance.
Ms Hodge said: "You don’t have anything. Honestly you’ve come to us with no information. The idea that you come here and just don’t answer questions, pretend ignorance, it’s just awful.
"You’re not serious here. I think they’ve sent you up as a sort of… I don’t know what. It’s outrageous, and we are a very busy committee.
"We will ensure that you: a) we want an answer this afternoon to questions about the holding company and b) we will expect a serious person to appear to us and we will order them, as soon as we can after recess, probably on a Thursday morning."
Lib Dem MP Ian Swales also hit out at Mr Cecil for offering "unacceptable" answers on the firm's holding company arrangements and European profits.
"You’re telling us you don’t know the corporate structure of your company. You’re the director of public policy, it’s incredible that you don’t know who owns the company," Mr Swales said.
MPs also criticised Starbucks for claiming it made no profit in the UK after Troy Alstead, Starbucks Global Chief Financial Officer told them: "I assure you we’re not making money" [in the UK].
Ms Hodge told the Starbucks CFO: “It just doesn’t run true, Mr Alstead. That’s what frustrates taxpayers in the UK.”
Google’s vice president for Europe was more open about the way in which the company sought to pay as little tax as possible.
“We think we do it in a way that’s appropriate, it’s certainly legal. … As a multinational company you have a duty [to shareholders]
"...as an international company and you set up companies outside your domestic market, which in our case is the US, and you look for where to locate your operations.