Sir Richard Branson yesterday insisted that he had not left Britain for tax reasons, saying he was living on his holiday island of Necker in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) because he loves the place.
He commented on the issue on his blog after the Sunday Times said his decision to leave Britain was a turnaround for the charismatic entrepreneur who has draped himself in the Union Jack to promote his business.
Sir Richard’s spokesman said he had been there for seven years and stressed it made no difference for tax purposes whether he was in the UK or the BVI.
In his blog Sir Richard said: “We are fortunate enough to live on Necker, the most beautiful place in the world, because it is our home where we can live life to the full. I have not left Britain for tax reasons, but for my love of the beautiful British Virgin Islands and in particular Necker Island, which I bought when I was 29 years old, 34 years ago as an uninhabited island. Over that time, we have built our home there, a place where my family and I are able to truly relax.
“Seven years ago we decided to move permanently to Necker as we feel it gives me and my wife Joan the best chance to live another productive few decades. We can also look after our health (Joan is approaching seventy and I’m not far behind).
“I still work day and night, now focusing on not-for-profit ventures, but on Necker I can also look after my health. There is no better place to stay active and I can kitesurf, surf, play tennis, swim, do Pilates and just play.
“I spent 40 years working day and night in Great Britain building companies and creating competition and choice for consumers across a whole range of industries. The companies we created from scratch have created tens of thousands of jobs and paid hundreds of millions in tax.
“Now in my 60s I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and contributed and now spend the vast majority of my time building not-for-profit ventures, raising awareness around important issues and earning money for charity. I have been very fortunate to accumulate so much wealth in my career, more than I need in my lifetime and would not live somewhere I don’t want to for tax reasons.”