The Sunday Times Rich List is often used as a barometer of a nation’s economic dynamism. So news that this year’s list is topped by fracking mogul Jim Ratcliffe may have come as a surprise given the inactivity of the UK fracking industry neutered by legal action, community resistance and sanction.
The founder of chemical giant INEOS is, we’re told, worth a whopping £21.05 billion. But be sure of two things: he neither makes his money nor pays his taxes in the UK. Latest accounts for INEOS Upstream (parent company of INEOS Shale) show a £12,000 loss.
As social commentator Lesley Riddoch points out: “In 2013 he forced redundancies and deep cuts to pay and pensions on his Grangemouth workforce. He threatened to close the massive chemicals plant unless he got his way, leaving humiliated workers with no choice but to accept those cost-cutting plans.
“Meanwhile Ratcliffe himself lives in Switzerland as a tax exile. He also moved the headquarters of his company there for tax reasons after accepting millions in government grants for his businesses.”
INEOS director Andy Currie and finance director John Reece shared in Ratcliffe’s fortunes, joining him in the top 20, taking joint 16th place with fortunes of £7 billion each.
But it seems unlikely INEOS’ money will buy the company many friends.
As DeSmog UK reported last week, INEOS is trying to sue the Scottish Government for compensation and to overturn a moratorium on fracking.
The company has also been accused of an assault on civil liberties after it took out a nationwide injunction against protesters. INEOS – which describes itself as “the biggest player in the UK shale gas industry” – took out a wide-reaching injunction against “persons unknown” in 2017 to prevent protests at future shale gas sites similar to those competitor Cuadrilla Resources experienced in Lancashire. Campaigners are challenging the legality of the injunction.
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