Seychelles entrepreneur’s heart ‘remained in England’

A wealthy Seychelles businessman has lost a bid to be regarded as domiciled
on the islands on the basis that his heart – if not many of his business affairs
– remained in England.

Robert Gaines-Cooper, whom court papers say has set up as many as 100
businesses around the world, was told he would be treated for tax purposes as
domiciled in England in a remarkable Special Commissioners’ judgment.

‘He never did wholly reject England nor, indeed, that small part of it
located in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, where he had so many ties and connections.
On the contrary, he felt its pull upon his affections and interests all his
days,’ the Commissioners said.

After considering oral evidence from the founding president of the republic
of the Seychelles and the British High Commissioner, the tribunal decided that
Gaines-Cooper’s attachment to English life, including his love of shooting and
attendance at Royal Ascot, his homes in the UK, his wife’s presence in the UK,
and his British citizenship, all indicated he was domiciled in England, resident
and ordinarily resident for the years concerned.

Gaines-Cooper, whose own father had been an Inland Revenue tax inspector, had
been appealing against tax demands from 1992 to 2004, having moved to the
Seychelles in the 1970s after deciding that the UK tax regime was not conducive
to entrepreneurship.

The businessman had started out selling jukeboxes to pubs, before joining
other companies, carrying out a diverse range of businesses. He eventually
became chairman of Orthofix, a Nasdaq-listed medical instruments company, as
well as starting a successful venture manufacturing laryngeal masks.

Tax inspectors drew up details of how many days Gaines-Cooper spent in the
UK, including an analysis of how often he used London airports to change planes.

The case is a preliminary decision, with other issues on the appeal expected
to be decided shortly.

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