Furlough Scheme Pays Out Millions to Foreign States and Tax Exiles

Firms owned by some of the wealthiest people in the world have benefitted from the Government’s furlough scheme over the past year, new analysis has found. £3 million was claimed by the Qatari owners of Harrods and the Ritz in December alone. The Guardian has the story.

Billionaire tax exiles, the British National party, Saudi royals and oil-rich Gulf states have claimed millions of pounds in taxpayer-funded furlough money, the Guardian can disclose.

The revelations, based on analysis of Government information, have sparked dismay among MPs at the use of a scheme designed to support struggling businesses and prevent mass unemployment, with one complaining of public money being scattered “like confetti”. …

The Government first published information about claimants last month, when it released data on the 750,000 businesses using the scheme in December 2020. Since then, details of some claimants have emerged, including Tony and Cherie Blair, and golf courses owned by Donald Trump.

But many of the beneficiaries have remained hidden until now, often due to complex company ownership structures. The Guardian cross-referenced Government data with Companies House filings that reveal who owns a controlling stake in UK businesses.

The analysis shows firms owned by some of the world’s wealthiest people and entities benefited from the scheme. The figures below are just a snapshot of one month. Some companies will have claimed more since the furlough scheme, under which the Government covers 80% of an employee’s wages, began in March last year.

The Guardian’s list of beneficiaries of the coronavirus job retention scheme include (but is not exclusive to) Qataris behind Harrods and the Ritz hotel, the ruler of Dubai, tax exiles and the British National party.

Harrods, owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and the Ritz hotel, owned by the ruler of Qatar’s brother-in-law, claimed up to £3 million between them in December.

Four Saudi royals received up to £55,000 for four companies, one of which manages the 2,000-acre Glympton Park estate in Oxfordshire, owned until this year by Bandar bin Sultan, former Saudi ambassador to the US.

The Government of Dubai, and its ruler Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, have also claimed for companies including a “six-star” 24-hour concierge service for VIPs.

And the list goes on. Claims made in January are also expected to have been published by April.

Worth reading in full.