Airport group’s shareholder registered in official tax haven

The entrance to Stansted Airport. Photo: Mark Davison/ARCHANT.

The entrance to Stansted Airport. Photo: Mark Davison/ARCHANT. - Credit: Archant

The location of Stansted Airport’s biggest parent company shareholder has been put on a tax haven blacklist by the Council of the European Union (EU).

The Cayman Islands is the first UK territory identified to have not cracked down on tax abuse, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, February 12.

The location is joining eight other locations around the world identified to be at high risk for tax avoidance: US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Oman, Fiji, Guam, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which owns Stansted Airport, has its biggest shareholder, Conyers Trust Limited, registered in the Cayman Islands. Conyers Trust owns 35.5 per cent of the shares, according to MAG's website.

The move comes less than a month after Brexit, prompting worries of whether the UK government will put measures in place to prevent tax avoidance.

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According to the Council of the EU, where ministers from each EU country pass laws and work on policies, "the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes helps EU member states deal more robustly with countries that encourage abusive tax practices."

The Council first adopted the list of 'non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes' more than two years ago, and has since updated it several times.

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Just a week before Brexit, Uttlesford District Council (UDC) voted against expansion plans for Stansted Airport during a planning committee meeting.

At the time, Councillor Colin Day questioned Manchester Airports Group (MAG)'s motivations to expand Stansted Airport: "It's financial. MAG's stated objective is to increase profits for its shareholders. That's what it says on their website.

"Incidentally, MAG's biggest private shareholder is registered in the Cayman Islands. There are only two possible reasons for that: tax avoidance and secrecy. So, what's the priority - the health and quality of life of our local residents, or increased profits for a secretive Cayman Islands company?"

The IFM Global Infrastructure Fund, who the Conyers Trust Company in the Cayman Islands is an administrator for, has been contacted for comment. A spokesperson for IFM refused to provide any comment regarding the Cayman Islands being put on the EU blacklist.

The Reporter also contacted a spokesman for Stansted Airport, who directed us to the IFM for comment.

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