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Press watch: Barclays

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‘Chuka Umunna MP is asking [at a Treasury Select Committee hearing] how many Barclays subsidiaries are incorporated in the Isle of Man. [Bob Diamond, Chief Executive of Barclays plc] says he doesn’t know. Umunna says there were 30 in that jurisdiction. He asks about Jersey. “The number is 38,” says Chuka. Ditto Cayman Islands – 181. Ummana points out: “All these are well known tax havens … a cursory reading of your group returns suggests you have over 300 companies operating in tax jurisdictions around the world.”

'Chuka Umunna … knows what he’s talking about. Should Diamond be embarrassed that he couldn’t answer those simple questions?

‘The Streatham MP asks if Barclays will reduce its [use of] offshore companies to transact business. “I’m happy to look into the numbers you gave,” says Diamond. “It would be inappropriate to discuss something I don’t know.” Ouch.’

Financial Times Westminster Blog, 11 January 2011