UK

Branson defends residence on Necker Island

  • 13 October 2013
  • From the section UK
Necker Island
Image caption Sir Richard bought the Caribbean island in 1979

Sir Richard Branson says he is not living on his holiday island of Necker for tax reasons but because of a love for the "beautiful" location.

The Virgin Group founder wrote an entry on his blog explaining the reasoning behind the move seven years ago from the UK to the British Virgin Islands, following a report in the Sunday Times.

His spokesman stressed it made "no difference for tax purposes" whether he was based in the UK or the BVI.

Sir Richard, 63, bought Necker in 1979.

He began building the Great House on the Caribbean island, which is used by his family and friends as well as being available as a holiday let, three years later.

Actress Kate Winslet, Sir Richard's mother Eve and daughter Holly were among those staying at the property in 2011 when a tropical storm broke out and lightning hit the house, destroying the original building.

The Sunday Times reported Sir Richard sold his Oxfordshire estate to his children in August and it highlighted the potential tax benefits to him as a resident of the BVI.

But writing on his blog, the businessman points out that he began living on the island with his wife Joan in 2006.

He said: "We are fortunate enough to live on Necker, the most beautiful place in the world, because it is our home where we can live life to the full.

"I have not left Britain for tax reasons, but for my love of the beautiful British Virgin Islands and in particular Necker Island, which I bought... as an uninhabited island.

"Seven years ago we decided to move permanently to Necker as we feel it gives me and my wife Joan the best chance to live another productive few decades. We can also look after our health.

"I still work day and night, now focusing on not-for-profit ventures, but on Necker I can also look after my health. There is no better place to stay active and I can kite surf, surf, play tennis, swim, do Pilates and just play."

Sir Richard made his name as the founder of the Virgin Records music label in 1972, and his company later branched out into areas including airlines, trains and financial services.

Image caption The Virgin Group founder is now mostly focusing on non-profit ventures

Sir Richard said: "I spent 40 years working day and night in Great Britain building companies and creating competition and choice for consumers across a whole range of industries.

"The companies we created from scratch have created tens of thousands of jobs and paid hundreds of millions in tax. For the last decade we have focused on expanding the Virgin brand globally."

He added: "I have been very fortunate to accumulate so much wealth in my career, more than I need in my lifetime and would not live somewhere I don't want to for tax reasons."

Sir Richard's spokesman said: "He moved there more than seven years ago, but rather than retiring there, he spends 90% of his time starting not for profit ventures and raising millions for charity through speeches and other charitable engagements.

"Since he gives 100% of any monies he earns from these to charity, it makes no difference for tax purposes whether he is in the UK or the BVI."

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