TaxAdministrationCustoms chief to join PFI player

Customs chief to join PFI player

Richard Broadbent, the soon-to-depart Customs and Excise chairman, is understood to be on the verge of joining FTSE-100 property giant Land Securities, parent company to a former bidder for the PFI contract to run 600 Customs and Inland Revenue properties.

Link: Customs chairman to step down

Accountancy Age has learned that Broadbent has been interviewed for a non-executive post at Land, which in 2000 acquired Trillium, part of one consortium that bid for what became the controversial STEPS contract to manage Customs’ and Revenue properties across the country.

STEPS was eventually awarded to Mapeley, which hit the headlines when it emerged the company was registered in Bermuda.

A spokeswoman for Land said it had made no secret of the fact it was looking for non-executives. But she said that although interviews had taken place ‘no formal appointment or decision has been made’.

But Whitehall sources claim a deal with Broadbent is as good as done and will be announced shortly. A spokesman for Customs said Broadbent was ‘not willing to comment’.

Broadbent is leaving the department on 30 July. At the time of his resignation he said that he would re-join the private sector.

The move is bound to spark fresh controversy because of Land’s connection to Trillium at the time of the STEPS tender process.

Bermuda-based Mapeley paid around £220m for more than 600 Revenue and Customs’ properties. The deal was said by several experts to be a prime example of tax avoidance, something the Revenue has been eager to clamp down on.

Broadbent avoided most of the flak following the Mapeley STEPS revelations, with Revenue chairman Sir Nick Montagu receiving most attention.

Broadbent is known to be a highly motivated and aggressive manager. He joined Customs from investment bank Schroders amidst a flurry of rumours about falling out with other executives at the bank. Mike Eland, director-general of business services at Customs, will replace him temporarily.

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