Sun, Jul 01, 2012 - Page 9 News List

Familiar faces seek out a quiet shelter for their fortunes

By Simon Bowers  /  The Guardian

In the grounds of Havilland Hall, the largest private estate on Guernsey, there stands an imposing cigar-wielding bronze figure, the likeness of corporate raider David Rowland who has been one of the islands’ longest-serving tax exiles.

The statue of the son of a scrap metal trader was unveiled in 2005, his 60th birthday, at a party where the guest of honor was Rowland’s good friend Prince Andrew.

Once labeled a “shady financier” in the British parliament, Rowland today retains little of the enfant terrible City of London profile that ruffled establishment feathers in the 1970s and 1980s. He is best known as one of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s most generous financial backers, who abruptly reversed out of the role of Conservative party treasurer two years ago.

Rowland’s tax residency today is unclear. He gave more than £4 million (US$6.27 million) to the Conservatives between the summer of 2009 and February last year — donations he would only have been able to make if living at a UK address.

“My father doesn’t talk to the press,” said Jonathan Rowland, the dotcom boom entrepreneur who now runs a private Luxembourg bank owned by his family.

Rowland senior, like many super rich who make their home in the Channel Islands, values the privacy island life affords. In common with his friends and near-neighbors Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, who live on the private tax-free island of Brecqhou, photographs of him are extremely rare.

Another Tory donor to have switched residency to Guernsey is the private equity baron Jon Moulton, whose Better Capital fund owns Jaeger, the double-glazing firm Everest, and Reader’s Digest. He joins private equity tycoon Guy Hands, best known for leading Terra Firma’s disastrous takeover of EMI. Hands is a friend of British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Stephen Lansdown, majority owner of Bristol City football club, said his move to Guernsey followed “ridiculous” UK tax levels. Lansdown’s fortune came from founding Hargreaves Lansdown.

The Formula 1 racing driver Jenson Button moved on from Guernsey to Monaco. The Welsh golfer Ian Woosnam, former F1 champion Nigel Mansell and broadcaster Alan Whicker, live on Jersey, all admitted under special tax deals meant to draw in the super rich.

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