FORMER Formula One world champion Nigel Mansell has told Sunday Times Driving that Lewis Hamilton has done nothing wrong by allegedly avoiding millions of pounds in tax during the purchase of a private jet.
Hamilton has been accused of avoiding £3.3m VAT on his £16.5m Bombardier Challenger 605 jet by making its first touch-down inside the European Union customs union on the tax haven of the Isle of Man, after it was imported from Canada in 2013. The Paradise Papers team claim that Hamilton’s advisers devised a scheme that effectively led to the driver leasing the plane from himself.
Hamilton’s lawyers say that a tax barrister review found that the structure of the jet deal was lawful and that it was not correct to say that no VAT had been paid on any of the arrangements.
During a video interview, Mansell, 64, agreed that the deal was fair. He said: “Lewis is doing nothing wrong whatsoever. I think we’ve got to put this into perspective: if the laws are there to allow you to do these things, and you’re not breaking the law, why is everyone making a big thing of it? I have no shame; I’ve lived in a tax haven for a lot of my life – legally – and I pay tax.
“OK, people who don’t live in tax havens and then harbour their money there, are they doing something illegally or not? That’s for the authorities to understand, not for me. But if you do things within the law then it’s a great system.”
Are you Lewis Hamilton’s Isle of Mann tax adviser?
— James Knipe (@jknipe101) November 8, 2017
Mansell had joined Driving as a representative of the Institute of Advanced Motorists to discuss safe driving techniques during the winter but questions for the 1992 F1 world champion via Twitter followers included one that asked, “Are you Lewis Hamilton’s Isle of Man tax adviser?” Mansell lived on the Isle of Man until 1995, when he relocated to Jersey, which is also considered a tax haven.
Hamilton said that his practice was to rely on professional advice and that he was not concerned with the day-to-day management of his business.