Amazon Executive Fumbles in Front of UK Parliament

Author: Adi Gaskell
Published: November 13, 2012 at 5:44 am

andrew cecilDuring these austere times governments around the world have been trying to increase tax revenues.  While many have balked at taxing the rich too heavily out of for fear of them leaving the country, governments have been much keener to ensure multinational corporations pay their fair share.

This was particularly the case after it emerged that a number of companies are using tax avoidance measures to divert profits made in Britain via lower taxed countries such as Ireland and Luxembourg.

This discovery prompted the government to order senior managers from Amazon, Google and Starbucks to parliament to explain themselves.

While Starbucks and Google were both reasonably forthcoming on their tax policies of using the Dutch and Luxembourg offices respectively to bank most of the profits made throughout Europe, Amazon's Andrew Cecil made a particularly poor and bumbling performance.

Mr Cecil, director of public policy at Amazon, fumbled throughout the grilling, repeatedly asking if he could return at a later date with key information, such as pre-tax profits made in Europe and the ownership structure of the European company.

The company paid taxes of just 8 million euros on sales of 9.1 billion throughout Europe.  According to a report by the Guardian, Amazon generated sales of more than £3.3bn in the UK last year but paid no corporation tax on any of the profits, and is under investigation by the UK tax authorities.

Margaret Hodge, chairing the committee, was scathing when the three executives claimed they were not doing anything illegal.

Ms Hodge, to say: "We're not accusing you of being illegal, we're accusing you of being immoral."

If you are based in the UK you can watch the grilling of Mr Cecil here.


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Article Author: Adi Gaskell

A writer on management issues for publications such as Professional Manager, CMI, HRM Today, Business Works and Technorati. I also cover social media for Social Media Today, DZone and Social Business News.

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