THERESA MAY’S appointment of a financier implicated in firms under tax investigations to a senior position in government was branded “an insult to British taxpayers” yesterday by GMB general secretary Tim Roache.
Sir Damon Buffini, who was knighted this year, has been tasked by the Prime Minister with overseeing the government’s review of business investment policy.
His new role as chairman of the government’s so-called Patient Capital Review is to explore ways of increasing financial investment in developing companies.
But Mr Roache argued that Mr Buffini’s involvement in firms whose tax affairs are being investigated made him unsuitable for the position.
“Hard questions must now be asked of Theresa May’s judgement in putting this individual in charge of a review of investment in British business,” the GMB general secretary said.
Mr Buffini has links with three business organisations which are under scrutiny by officials of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over payment of taxes.
He is listed at Companies House as a member of film production partnerships Inside Track Productions, Inside Track 2 LLP and Inside Track 3 LLP.
All three organisations are being investigated by HMRC after claiming huge financial losses while investing in highly profitable films including Avatar and Die Hard 4.
Mr Buffini is also accused of asset-stripping — taking over businesses, extracting their cash value and then abandoning them.
He was boss of capital investment firm Permira, which took over roadside assistance company the Automobile Association (AA) in 2004.
After the takeover, Permira sacked 3,000 of the firm’s 10,000 employees and derecognised the GMB.
Permira eventually dumped the AA, leaving it with debts of almost £4 billion.
Mr Buffini, however, has a personal fortune estimated at between £100 million and £200m.
Mr Roache said: “Buffini’s background, questionable tax status and his form for asset-stripping British businesses make him one of the last people on Earth who should be in charge of a government review of this nature.
“At best, this shows a lack of due diligence on checking the suitability of Buffini for the role and, at its worst, this suggests Theresa May wrongly thinks that avoiding tax and stripping down businesses are something to be celebrated and rewarded.
“Buffini’s busted record on business shows that this government really is scraping the bottom of the barrel for business advice.”