Thursday 18 January 2018

The Punt: Austerity-free Dutch bankers

British Labour party leader Ed Miliband. Photo: PA
British Labour party leader Ed Miliband. Photo: PA
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis

Eurogroup chair Jeroen Dijsselbloem has been perceived as one of the arch proponents of austerity in the Eurozone in the last few years, along with the European Commission and ECB.

In recent months he has been pitted against Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis as the former stood firm in the push for Greece to commit to its existing bailout.

But one forgets that Dijsselbloem faces his own domestic problems and criticisms. As Dutch finance minister, he has had to deal with his nation's financial problems, which included nationalising one of its banks.

Dijsselbloem yesterday said he plans to put ABN Amro Group's initial public offering (IPO) back on his government's agenda soon, brushing off criticism that he mishandled management of salary rises at the state-owned lender.

The Dutch parliament is debating the matter after politicians' outrage at pay rises awarded to executives at the bank forced the government to delay the bank's IPO.

Dijsselbloem came under scrutiny after the bank's management said he had promised to defend the increases.

It's tough at the top.

Irish move for jet-setter

What have a high-profile German international yachtsman and a Russian airline executive got in common?

Not much, you might think. Except that Sven-Erik Horsch and Sergei Koltovich are both directors of a new Irish company called Horizon Bizjet Leasing. The company's objectives, unsurprisingly, are to engage in the "business of aircraft leasing, selling and purchasing".

Horsch, who's based in Hamburg, is a member of the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein sailing club and competes in international sailing events.

He's also a vice president at Hamburg-headquartered private equity and investment firm Koenig & Cie.

Koltovich is a former Aeroflot executive, who has been working with Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel, helping it to restructure its aviation assets.

Koltovich also notes on his LinkedIn account that he's "working out an operating lease solution for business jets to be leased out to corporate clients". Hence, the Punt, suspects, the new Irish company, of which Koltovich is listed as the sole shareholder.

Ed's eye on the tax band

For most of us tax is just one of those things. Every so often the taxman nabs a chunk of your earnings and in return the Government stops anyone else from doing the same thing. It might also throw in schools and hospitals, water, etc - but it might not.  The deal is infinitely better for those lucky enough to have "non-dom" tax status in the UK.

Non-domiciled UK residents, to use the formal title, are resident, but not domiciled, in the UK.

The criteria around proving such status is about as muddied as the concept. But an Irish person in Britain - even one born there - can argue that their true home is, well, back home.

Non-dom status is in the news because UK Labour leader Ed Miliband, below, says he'll scrap it if elected. Non-doms have to pay UK tax on anything earned in Britain, but non-UK earnings, such as from offshore companies, are tax free.

Here, tax status is tied to time spent in the jurisdiction but UK non-doms can spend their entire year in Britain and still pay no income tax if their earnings happen to come from abroad.

Makes the "double Irish" look like a single helping.

Irish Independent

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