Through their company, Littlewoods Ltd, the tax-dodging Barclay brothers are suing the UK taxpayer for £1bn, blowing “a multibillion-pound hole in the government’s deficit reduction plans” according to Stuart Walsh, partner at Pinsent Masons.
Littlewoods, owned by the brothers investment company, is suing the HMRC for £1bn as they argue that they’re owed a compounded interest rate instead of a simple interest rate on VAT they overpaid between 1973 and 2004 in breach with EU (not UK) law.
Since October 2004, the HMRC has repaid more than £200 million in overpaid VAT and £268 million in simple interest on the VAT repayment to Littlewoods, in accordance with the Value Added Tax Act 1994.
However, the brothers want a compounded interest rate and are therefore suing the HMRC for £1bn in a time where the UK public sector debt is more than a trillion.
So why is this relevant? Well, Littlewoods’ only shareholder is LW Investments, the Barclay Brothers investment vehicle (Littlewoods company check here and LW Investment here). The board consists of friends, close business partners and family (see here – Aidan and Howard Barclay is family, Michael Seal and Phillip L Peters are also directors in LW Investments). The brothers basically control everything in the company. Also, the decision to sue the HMRC.
It is quite a coincidence that the Barclays bought Littlewoods in 2002 and two years later they find out that they are owed millions? Or did the brothers see another business opportunity in suing the UK for taxpayers’ money, while themselves avoiding paying tax in the UK?