Britain's tax authorities have given Goldman Sachs an unusual and generous Christmas present, leaked documents reveal. In a secret London meeting last December with the head of Revenue, the wealthy Wall Street banking firm was forgiven £10m interest on a failed tax avoidance scheme.
HM Revenue and Customs sources admit privately that the interest-free deal is "a cock-up" by officials, but refuse to say who was responsible.
Documents leaked to Private Eye magazine and published in full by the Guardian record that Britain's top tax official, HMRC's permanent secretary Dave Hartnett, personally shook hands on a secret settlement last December.
Hartnett is due to be questioned on Wednesday by the Commons public accounts committee. The leaked documents suggest that a previous PAC chairman, Edward Leigh, was misled when he was told it was illegal to reveal details of such cases to parliament...
The £10m Christmas gift for Goldman was the culmination of a prolonged attempt by the US firm to avoid paying national insurance on huge bonuses for its bankers working in London.
The sum was pocket change to Goldman, whose employees received $15.3bn (£9.5bn) in pay and bonuses last year. Its Wall Street head, Lloyd Blankfein, received $68m in 2008 and at the height of Britain's banking crisis 100 London partners set their bonuses at £1m each. This level was considered a mark of restraint.
In the 1990s, Goldman set up a company offshore in the British Virgin Islands. This entity, called Goldman Sachs Services Ltd, supposedly employed all of Goldman's London bankers, who were then "seconded" to work there.
The device appears to have been designed to conceal the size of the bonuses. Judge David Williams said in 2009 that it was "a way of keeping information about the GS accounts and payroll out of the public domain and confidential".There is literally no lengths these guys won't go to in order to line their bank accounts. They don't care who suffers as a result, they care only about their own egos. I absolutely despise Goldman, but I'm also not naive enough to think that they're alone in this kind of behavior.
These guys play by different rules than the rest of us, plain and simple. There is no equality under the law, and the more stuff that comes out like this, the more clear that becomes. I'm furious. But don't worry... they're doing God's work. Wall Street is our Main Street. I say, fuck that. There's a reason people are "occupying Wall Street" right now--this is that reason.