£30m Goldman deal ‘could have been renegotiated’

THE £30m deal struck between HM Revenue & Customs and Goldman Sachs could have been renegotiated, MPs were told yesterday.

HMRC counsel Anthony Inglese admitted yesterday on oath to the Public Accounts Committee that HMRC could renegotiate the deal after a mistake was found that lost the Exchequer £8m. However, Inglese said that he advised Hartnett not to renegotiate the deal over Goldman Sachs’ use of employee benefit trusts to avoid paying National Insurance contributions.

It also emerged that the tax bill under consideration was for £30m. Court papers from a 2009 case heard by Mr Justice Norris shows that HMRC commenced proceedings in 2003 seeking repayment of some £30.8m of unpaid NIC and interest.

The controversy centres around Goldman Sachs’ refusal to pay the bill at the time, in contrast with 21 other companies that were using employee benefit trusts, which offer employees loans that do not incur NI payments. HMRC said that the refusal to do so would mean the bank would pay interest on the bill when it was finally paid. However, the deal struck in 2010 did not charge Goldman Sachs interest. HMRC has said this was due an error that it refuses to disclose.

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