Wednesday, 13 November, 2019

Incoming FCA chairman reveals investment in film tax-avoidance scheme

Source FCA Source FCA
Russell Knight | 21 February, 2018, 15:31

Former Slaughter and May partner and incoming Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chairman Charles Randell has admitted that he made an "error of judgement" in relation to investments made into a controversial alleged tax avoidance scheme.

The error resulted in him repaying £114,000 plus interest to the taxman after HM Revenue & Customs declared that the scheme had been designed as a tax-avoidance product rather than an investment vehicle created to make money for investors by financing films, according to media reports today.

Mr Randell was appointed by the Treasury in January to take over as chairman of the main City regulator on April 1.

In a letter to Treasury permanent secretary Tom Sinclair, Randell explained that the investment was promoted to him by his financial adviser in 2006 and that he remained a member until 2011.

Randell, who is now an external member of the Prudential Regulation Committee of the Bank of England, as well as a non-executive director of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will succeed John Griffith-Jones as FCA chairman on 1 April. It used tax breaks created to encourage films to be made in the UK.

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"But I was reassured to hear that this partnership had been discussed with senior policy officials at HMRC, who had indicated that they approved of it".

When asked if he could see whether such a scheme could look to "ordinary people... those who aren't seeking to be FCA chair" like "some rather clever tax wheeze", he replied: "Yes, I can".

But Mr Randell said that it had been "an error of judgement" that he had failed to further investigate those assurances.

Randell said the relationship between the regulator and the Treasury had traditionally been "difficult but successful" and confirmed his intention to conduct a personal assessment into the background behind the strain between public expectations, the Treasury committee, and what the FCA felt itself able to offer.

He added: "Despite assurances from my adviser and the managers of the partnership that HMRC were content with the partnership arrangements, HMRC subsequently opened an inquiry into the partnership tax affairs". Randell has been an external member of the Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Committee (PRC) and is a non-executive board member of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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