BY HELEN NIANIAS
Sir Michael Hintze, an Australian-born hedge fund manager and Tory party donor, may manage firms that turn over hundreds of millions of pounds a year, but he is pretty good at getting away with only paying a little light tax to HMRC.
Hintze, who Forbes reckon is worth $1.8 billion (£1.1 billion), manages a variety of firms under QCS, a global multi-strategy, asset-management company, but tax arrangements in the Channel Islands, Cayman Islands and Luxembourg mean that he’s largely unbothered by paying his fair share.
QCS Management Limited, for example, turned over £78.5 million in 2011, but got away with paying a puny £6,192 in corporation tax that year.
One of CQS’s funds, ABS, which dealt in the murky subprime mortgage market that lead to the financial collapse in 2008, made huge returns during the credit crisis by adopting what the Financial Times described as “bearish positions designed to profit from a collapse in the US mortgage market”.
Hintze’s fund returned 179% on its clients’ capital from June 2007–June 2009, when many firms were suffering and global unemployment spiralled. Hintze was knighted in 2013 thanks to “services to the arts”, but that was met with raised eyebrows from some quarters.
For one, he has been a very generous donor to the Tory party since 2005, lending a total of £2.5 million; this year he managed to outdo himself by giving £1.5 million outright to Cameron’s party.
Hintze and his wife, Dorothy, were entertained by David Cameron as a special “thank you” for his support.
Hintze also has superb Royal connections from his role as the chairman of Prince Charles’s Foundation for the Built Environment, and Michael Fawcett, Charles’s former aide, even threw a lavish 55th birthday party for Hintze in 2008. So maybe that knighthood didn’t come as a total surprise, then.