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Scottish Football Sunday Mail London

Making millions: Bob Geldof, Fraser Ewing, Semion Mogilevich and Royal Bank of Scotland fatcats

By Colin Grant

May 20, 2012 | 5 min read

It’s a rich man’s world and former Boomtown Rats star Bob Geldof is no stranger to it, according to The Sunday Times.

The wealthy anti-poverty crusader, who with Midge Ure urged millions of ordinary people to support famine-stricken Africa with their hard-earned cash, is not paying UK tax on all of his income.

Nicholas Hellen writes: “Bob Geldof has secured non-domiciled tax status, a loophole enabling him to avoid large sums of tax on overseas earnings.”

The report reveals that the former singer is worth £32 million and “has arranged his tax affairs so his London apartment and mansion in Kent are exempt from stamp duty and inheritance tax.

“Both properties are owned by offshore companies, based in the British Virgin Isles.”

Richard Murphy, founder of the Tax Justice Network, a campaign group, told The Sunday Times: “Poverty relief in Africa is fundamentally about reducing inequality and you can’t reduce inequality without the wealthy paying all their taxes.”

I’m sure those words would have struck a chord with a young “Sir” Bob as he stood on the Live Aid stage back in 1985, urging UK taxpayers to support his noble cause.

One man who doesn’t intend to pay tax for the rest of his life is Fraser Ewing. Unlike Bob Geldof, though, he won’t be resorting to clever accounting to achieve his aim.

He’s just going to stop working.

Lynn McPherson’s excellent exclusive in The Sunday Mail tells the story of the Hearts fan who “is celebrating the best weekend ever after watching his Tynecastle favourites lift the Scottish Cup – less than 24 hours after scooping £1 million on the lottery.

“He was hailed by his friends as Scotland’s luckiest man after his EuroMillions win was followed by a trip to Hampden to see his team crush local rivals Hibs 5-1.”

The self employed painter and decorator from Edinburgh has “vowed that he will never pick up a paintbrush again”.

Semion Mogilevich is, like Fraser, a big football fan, but they share no other attributes with the possible exception that Semion won’t pick up a paintbrush again either.

The 65-year-old overweight Ukrainian fugitive from the FBI has been identified as possibly the biggest winner of Euro 2012, which kicks off this summer.

At 5ft 6in and 21 stone he is a true fatcat in every sense of the word.

As exclusively revealed by James Murray in The Sunday Express, Mogilevich is a crime lord who expects to earn millions from next month’s tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

Murray writes: “His racketeering empire includes prostitution, selling alcohol and providing security and it is said he has already earned a fortune from kickbacks on stadium construction projects in Ukraine, where England meet France on June 11.”

The FBI would like to interview him after investors apparently lost £130 million in a complex scam. Now he has recruited an army of touts to take care of tickets at the tournament.

The Sunday Express says: "Ticket sales have reached an all-time record of £30.4 billion.

“If the gangs of touts run by Mogilevich pick up just one per cent of that they will have earned him £303.7 million.”

The relationship between sports and big bucks also gets a good show in The Mail on Sunday whose front page blasts: “Olympic freebies for RBS fatcats” and “Fury as staff blamed for bank’s crisis to enjoy champagne trips to London 2012”.

However, this splash left me feeling more curious than furious.

Martin Delgado writes: “The state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland has provoked fury by lavishing corporate hospitality on its clients at the London Olympics.”

The report goes on to reveal that “executives will be able to enjoy champagne costing £60 a bottle while they watch the events.”

£60 a bottle? Sounds like a bargain.

Undaunted, The MoS continues: “RBS chiefs have purchased tickets thought to have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds from a company charging up to £7,500 per seat.

“Yet despite repeated requests by this newspaper, the bank, which is 82 per cent owned by the taxpayer, refused to reveal the cost of the tickets.”

The paper then wheeled out Labour MP John Mann, who predictably complained about banking excess, while conveniently ignoring the fact that his party played a starring role in the industry’s collapse while in power.

It sounds to me that the only fury this story has generated is from The Mail on Sunday whose questions were neatly sidestepped. It makes me wonder how much they really know?

Perhaps they should investigate if RBS chiefs are buying tickets from Semion Mogilevich. Now that really would be a good story.

COLIN GRANT is a former journalist who now runs Spectrum PR, a Glasgow-based public relations and media consultancy.

Scottish Football Sunday Mail London

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