All the UK's major banks make extensive use of tax havens in the course of their business. As a survey for the TUC showed, in 2008 Barclays were the biggest user but all four of our leading High Street banks had large numbers of subsidiaries in locations such as Cayman, Jersey, The Isle of Man, Bermuda, the Bahamas and Luxembourg.
One bank stands out from the crowd though. As MP Chuka Umunna showed in questioning of Barclay's boss Bob Diamond before the Treasury Committee of the House of Commons in January 2011, his bank had 181 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands alone in 2010, an extraordinary increase from 143 in 2008. Bob Diamond admitted he had no idea how many companies the bank of which he is chief executive had in the island, but said they were there for 'tax efficiency'. In plain, straightforward terms that means they shift the tax burden from the bank onto other people. And for that reason Barclays gets the nomination from amongst our big banks.
- Image: Andrew Aitchison