Star executive quits Uber as it faces pressure over UK tax structure | Uber


Uber lost one of its most successful dealmakers at a time when the company feared its position within the taxi app could undermine its tax avoidance structure, leaked documents suggest.

Leaked notes say Fraser Robinson – one of Uber’s star executives who was based in London and led its $3.5bn investment deal with Saudi Arabia in 2016 – was told by a senior executive that he “should move to AMS [Amsterdam]”. Uber sought to persuade UK tax collectors that the business was not partially run – and therefore taxable – in the UK.

A document in Uber’s records, a trove of confidential files leaked to the Guardian, noted: “[Robinson] refused to switch to AMS… HMRC says Uber’s EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Africa] earnings [are] taxable in the UK because of Fraser.

The Uber files is a global investigation based on a trove of 124,000 documents that were leaked to the Guardian. The data consist of emails, iMessages and WhatsApp exchanges between the Silicon Valley giant's most senior executives, as well as memos, presentations, notebooks, briefing papers and invoices.

The leaked records cover 40 countries and span 2013 to 2017, the period in which Uber was aggressively expanding across the world. They reveal how the company broke the law, duped police and regulators, exploited violence against drivers and secretly lobbied governments across the world.

To facilitate a global investigation in the public interest, the Guardian shared the data with 180 journalists in 29 countries via the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The investigation was managed and led by the Guardian with the ICIJ.

In a statement, Uber said: "We have not and will not make excuses for past behaviour that is clearly not in line with our present values. Instead, we ask the public to judge us by what we’ve done over the last five years and what we will do in the years to come."

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What are Uber Files?

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The Uber files are a global investigation based on a trove of 124,000 documents that were leaked to the Guardian. The data consists of emails, iMessages and WhatsApp exchanges between the Silicon Valley giant’s top executives, as well as memos, presentations, notebooks, briefing notes and invoices.

The leaked records cover 40 countries and span from 2013 to 2017, when Uber was aggressively expanding across the globe. They reveal how the company has broken the law, tricked police and regulators, exploited violence against drivers and secretly lobbied governments around the world.

To facilitate a global investigation in the public interest, the Guardian shared the data with 180 journalists in 29 countries through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The investigation was managed and led by the Guardian with the ICIJ.

In a statement, Uber said, “We do not and will not make excuses for past behavior that is clearly inconsistent with our current values. Instead, we are asking the public to judge us on what we have done in the past five years and what we will do in the years to come.”

Thank you for your opinion.

Robinson, who was not responsible for Uber’s tax structure, left the company in 2017 after refusing to move to Uber’s international headquarters and tax base in Amsterdam. He reportedly resisted Uber’s request for family reasons and a source said he was already considering other challenges after a successful stint with the company.

He was a valued employee and was described internally as the executive who “led some of the company’s most transformational transactions, including the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) investment,” which at the time was the largest private placement in history”. .

The revelations also raise questions for former UK Chancellor George Osborne, who according to leaked documents was a private supporter of the US company’s efforts to expand its business in the UK, just as the company simultaneously positioned itself to avoid future UK taxes.

Osborne met Uber founder Travis Kalanick at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2016 – just days after the company won a major regulatory victory in the UK when Transport for London (TfL) scrapped the proposals to strengthen the regulation of private hire vehicles.

George Osborne in Davos in 2016. Photography: Ruben Sprich/Reuters

In a leaked email titled “Davos feedback” sent after the conference, Uber’s top European lobbyist Mark MacGann said: “George Osborne is a strong advocate. He liked to believe he was responsible for the positive outcome of consulting TfL.

If the email was accurate, the UK Chancellor had apparently helped a US company just as it was trying to avoid paying UK tax.

A former HMRC tax inspector suggested to the Guardian: ‘Having senior guys based in London will always carry a risk that HMRC can claim there’s the UK [permanent establishment] of the company … or even that the company … is run from London.

“So they may have felt exposed to a serious challenge from HMRC… and needed to get their house in order quickly.”

Uber, which has only posted a global annual profit once, had created a corporate structure similar to many other US companies through which profits could be diverted overseas – often to Amsterdam. The structures, which are legal but arguably unethical, have drawn criticism from some major US companies that employ them to avoid UK tax, including Starbucks and Google.

Under the model, riders paid millions of pounds in fares for Uber rides in the UK directly to a Netherlands-based payment processor. Uber could then argue that profits from those rides should be taxed overseas – even if the transactions took place physically in the UK – unless HMRC can establish that the global company had a business presence in the UK. United.

Instead, the British taxi app company mainly received its revenue from a sister company in Amsterdam, which paid the London company for ‘marketing services’ – which generated 59.5 million of revenue and £54.9 million of costs in 2017, according to the accounts. filed at Companies House.

A spokesman for Osborne said: “While the Government inherited from its predecessors a tax code which meant tech companies paid little tax, it was George Osborne as Chancellor who – with the Germany – launched the OECD’s international negotiations to change that, a process that led to the widely hailed global agreement last year.

Uber said: “Uber is committed to complying with tax laws and regulations where we operate, including the UK and the Netherlands.”

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