By PAUL HASTE
TAX justice campaigners accused the Treasury on Sunday of handing a “dodgy” former trustee of the Liechtenstein royal family’s secretive bank control over taxpayers’ money.
US citizen Glen Moreno, the chairman of the Pearson corporation, which owns the Financial Times, was appointed as acting chairman of the government’s UK Financial Investments (UKFI) company last month.
UKFI was set up to manage the billions of pounds of public money that is helping to keep troubled British banks afloat.
It oversees more than £37 billion that has been pumped into the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, which now includes the Halifax Bank of Scotland. It is expected to soon take over the government’s management of both Northern Rock and Bradford and Bingley.
But Mr Moreno has been exposed as a former trustee for the Liechtenstein Global Trust Bank (LGT), which has been accused of facilitating massive tax evasion.
Some 100 British citizens are believed to be facing investigation by HM Revenue and Customs on the basis of leaked information from the bank.
LGT has also been attacked by the United States Senate’s subcommittee on tax havens, which charged that the bank’s executives, including members of Liechtenstein’s royal family, “aided and abetted clients trying to evade taxes, dodge creditors or defy court orders.”
Liechtenstein, an immensely rich but tiny principality situated between Austria and Switzerland, is controlled by the self-styled “His Serene Highness” Prince Alois, who oversees a country that has just 15 banks but whose vaults contain a staggering £135 billion.
The Treasury’s decision to hand control of taxpayers’ billions to a former trustee of Prince Alois’s bank was greeted incredulously by anti-tax-haven campaigners.
TUC financial and tax affairs analyst Richard Murphy pointed out that ministers “think they can put capitalism back together again, just like Humpty Dumpty.
“It isn’t possible, but this explains why they appoint serial abusers like Glen Moreno to appointments of this sort,” he said.
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable added: “It is absolutely extraordinary that the government is entrusting the safeguarding of public money to somebody who has been intimately involved with one of the dodgier tax havens.
“The only possible justification for appointing him is if he’s willing to be a poacher turned gamekeeper and help to close the tax avoidance schemes that British banks have been heavily engaged in,” he said.