Money makes the world go around
07 November 2017
What a furore there is at the moment over off-shore investment. So many wealthy people have been named in the media for using such investment vehicles. Moreover, the press almost universally is using the stories to castigate these individuals to the point of virtually criminalising them.
Interestingly, though, they are not criminals. They are using legitimate and legal investment routes. In the UK, one of our four fundamental British Values is the Rule of Law. These celebrities and prominent people are working within the law, and yet they are being made to feel as though they have done something wrong. It’s a very interesting situation.
Of course, it all boils down to an issue of morality. Is it ethically acceptable to siphon off one’s cash to a tax efficient haven even if it is legal? UK law does not deal with morality and perhaps it can be argued that we rely on the press to be the guardians of our society’s moral standing.
I clearly recall the advice given to my wife and I some 20-odd years ago. We had just been subject to a business partner ripping us off for a very substantial sum of money. The solicitor sat behind his large desk and empathised with our situation. He told us we had a good case and felt, if we decided to take action, we had an excellent chance of success. We were encouraged by his words but then he hit us with a bomb shell. He asked us if we had a minimum of £250,000 to invest in legal action; his estimate of the cost of a prolonged court argument. At the time, we barely had £250 to our name and he advised us to forget the whole thing and put it down to a very expensive experience. His closing counsel to us was that we needed to recognise “there is a big difference between justice and UK law.” We came away very depressed and felt extremely vulnerable and unprotected.
Most of us happily lead our lives according to the Rule of Law. This is what a safe society expects, and we should all support this notion if we want to be part of that safe society. Occasionally, we can feel let down by the law, which is why it changes and evolves over time. I wonder if there is any real prospect of the law now changing to reflect the wave of moral revulsion that reflects many people’s view about off-shore investments. Personally, I doubt it very much. What do you think?