Barclays made £1.4bn profits in Luxembourg – £100m for each worker

British bank's country snapshot reveals it paid just £20m in tax in Luxembourg in 2013, where it employed just 14 members of staff

The Luxembourg operations of Barclays, through which of much of the bank's controversial tax planning services are channelled, generated £1.4bn of profits in 2013 – £100m for each of the 14 people employed there.

In published details about the turnover, tax and headcount of the main countries in which its operates, Barclays also revealed it paid just £20m of tax in Luxembourg.

Barclays' chief executive, Antony Jenkins, pledged in February 2013 to close down the bank's tax avoidance unit, known as structured capital markets (SCM), as part of his efforts to clean up the reputation of the bank. However, he said the process would take several years.

Much of the SCM activity was driven through Luxembourg. Lord Lawson, the former Conservative chancellor, described the business as orchestrating tax avoidance on an "industrial scale".

The data was published by Barclays to comply with a new European Union directive and refers to the 2013 calendar year.

Barclays said its turnover in Luxembourg for 2014 should be lower. "Whilst Luxembourg will continue to be an important location for our investment banking business, our operations there are changing following the closure of the structured capital markets unit. Those changes mean the 2014 snapshot is expected to show significantly reduced turnover," the bank said.

Barclays reported profits of £2.8bn for 2013, a total headcount of 140,282 and turnover of £36bn. Its new "country snapshot" shows Luxembourg was the most profitable country after the UK, where it reported £4.9bn of profits.

But Richard Murphy, director of Tax Research UK, calculated that the UK operations of Barclays, which employs 54,595 people, made a £1.4bn loss. The bank said the total figure for the UK included £3bn dividends paid by other countries and £2.4bn gains on internal reorganisations were stripped out.

"This is why we have not made a larger corporation tax payment [in the UK] in 2013," Barclays said.

Barclays paid £55m of corporation tax in the UK – less than the £226m of corporation tax it paid in South Africa and the £215m it handed over in the United States.

The bank, which said it paid £1.4bn of tax in the UK if all taxes were included, said it had an obligation to shareholders not to pay more tax than it owed: "Tax influences decisions about how we organise and run our businesses, and about where we base our operations or hold assets.

"Making these decisions is an integral part of running a commercial organisation and where tax is a factor in deciding where or how we do business, we ensure there is a genuine substance to the activity we conduct in each country".

"We do not seek to avoid paying our share and are proud of the contribution we make," Barclays added.

Globally Barclays paid £830m of corporation tax, £730m of social security payments and other items to give a total tax bill of £3.4bn.

The bank lists Jersey, with 285 staff, as having the fifth-highest turnover of £972m, profits of £801m and paying corporation tax of £9m. Singapore is next with 4,000 employees, turnover of £866m but profits of £141m and corporation tax of £6m.


Jill Treanor

The GuardianTramp

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