Secretive finances and a retreat to tax havens: Can Ineos be trusted?
Ineos, the company accused of holding Scotland to ransom, must now answer questions over its corporation tax arrangements after an analysis of the company's accounts by tax experts could not find any evidence that the group has paid tax in the UK since 2008.
Ineos claims to be a company in dire straits – in need of vast swathes of public money. Ineos has submitted an application for a €150 million infrastructure loan guarantee from the government to convert its Grangemouth plant in Scotland to run on cheap US shale gas.
An investigation by respected accounting expert Richard Murphy has found that the company's public statements do not necessarily match the reality of an opaque and secretive accounting regime.
Despite claiming to operate in 11 countries, Ineos is in fact present in 23 jurisdictions, at least five of which are known tax havens:
Switzerland (Group HQ)
Ineos relocated from Britain to Switzerland in 2010 and by setting up home in this well-known tax haven cost the British tax-payer millions in lost revenue. There is no evidence that Ineos has paid any tax in Britain since 2008 – despite generating billions from its British facilities.
Offshoring to Switzerland has ensured that there is considerable secrecy surrounding Ineos' activity, to the extent that even the company's annual turnover cannot be confirmed.
At the same time, available UK accounts show that investment in fixed assets has been approximately half the cost of interest financing - a particularly modest ratio for a company demanding public investment.
Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty commented:
“With the company frantically lobbying for millions of pounds of taxpayers' money, the government need to be sure that it can trust what
Ineos says. Unite investigations show Ineos to be secretive and holed up in known tax havens. We can't find evidence that the company has paid a penny in British tax since 2008. How can it be right that Ineos is able to be so secretive and opaque yet be allowed to control a vital part of our country's energy infrastructure.
"Unite urges policymakers to pause before giving the green light to any Ineos investment plans that require taxpayers' money.”