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Barclays Could Axe Tax Planning Unit

by Robert Lee,, London

12 September 2012

Barclays bank looks set to move away from the controversial tax planning operations that have brought it into conflict with the UK taxman.

The intention to scale back the bank's tax structuring unit has been signalled by both the new chief executive Antony Jenkins and his head of investment banking Rich Ricci.

Ricci told investors earlier this week that elements of Barclays' tax advisory business had "generated negative media and political attention". He stressed that the bank needs to take a "fresh look" at the products and services it offers, given a "changing environment".

Jenkins has ordered a review of all the bank's businesses. The investment arm of the group is however expected to remain in place.

Barclays came under fire in February for its use of two tax avoidance schemes subsequently shut down by the Treasury. The controversy was recently re-ignited with the publication by parliament's Treasury Select Committee of an exchange between the bank's now ex-Chief Executive Bob Diamond and the UK Chancellor George Osborne.

In his letter to the committee, Diamond complained of the treatment the bank had received, claiming that the government's handling of the affair had caused "unnecessary damage" to Barclays's reputation. Osborne, on the other hand, maintained that: "This was not harsh treatment of a particular bank but rather the first opportunity to block a newly identified avoidance scheme".

TAGS: compliance | tax | investment | tax compliance | tax avoidance | law | banking | United Kingdom | offshore | offshore banking | tax planning

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