Concern over wealth disparity and corporate greed is growing across the world, and especially in the UK as London’s financial district is often described as the most important hub in the world.
Mark Donne’s The UK Gold is an investigation attempts to get under the skin of the murky world of corporate tax avoidance in the city and an expose of the role the City of London plays in the international tax haven matrix. Donne estimates there are around 8,000 shell companies harbouring profits for major companies in London and his film is a call to action against the practice, which is estimated to cost the UK economy billions of pounds each year and is often said to have knock on effects for poorer countries.
“In a substantive sense, what we’re saying in the film hasn’t ever been said before, which it what makes it utterly unique,” says Donne. “If you type in any permutation of ‘tax avoidance’ into Google, the three words you will not find joined together are ‘City of London’.”
The film lays bare what Donne describes as government hypocrisy over the official line on tax avoidance – that it is “repulsive” and “repugnant” – and the creation of new laws making the practice simpler for corporations.
Donne says every effort was made to give right to reply to the film’s core targets, though none were willing to interview. Instead, the narrative sees vicar William Taylor gleaning new insights on the process through interviews with the likes of Jonathan Rutter, who operates a massive European hedge fund, senior MPs from the main British political parties and Channel 4 news anchor John Snow.
And thought the subject matter is not going to appeal to all – Caitlin Meek-O’Connor, acquisitions manager at distributor DRG says it is aimed “straight at the public broadcasters” – there are commercial selling points, with the music score provided by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Massive Attack’s Robert de Naja and The Wire and The Hour star Dominic West lending his voice as narrator.
Furthermore, the show’s roll out in the UK is worthy of note. Today (November 25), it launches in the UK with a screening at the Houses of Parliament.
“We’ve also hired a venue in the City of London and invited [City of London Corporation representatives] all to come along,” adds Donne. “We’ve created a hashtag so they can discredit the film if they want.”
DRG’s Meek-O’Connor sums up the show thusly: “It’s quite a different film for us; we pick up a lot of straight TV content so it’s exciting to be wrapped up in something quite political.
The show: The UK Gold
The producer: Brass Moustache Films
The broadcaster: n/a
The distributor: DRG
The concept: A film investigating the City of London’s role in corporate tax avoidance and satellite tax havens