British entrepreneur and parliamentarian Michelle Mone has defended her billionaire boyfriend over his links to an alleged £13 million ($16.9 million) tax avoidance scheme.
Doug Barrowman had previously served as director of an offshore payroll company called Aston Management Ltd (AML). AML is said to have helped its workers reduce their tax bills to less than 10 percent.
"They're not going after my partner, and it was a scheme that was set up – and I'm not here to speak on his behalf, it's not my business – but it was a scheme that was set up way back in 2011," Mone told CNBC Wednesday.
"And when legislation changed, they stopped doing it. So nothing was illegal, nothing was untowards, and he hasn't done a thing wrong."
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the U.K. governmental department tasked with collecting taxes, has asked contractors who benefited from the scheme to pay back tens of thousands in income tax.
AML allowed its clients to sign up to Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs), funds which can be set up overseas by firms to hold assets on behalf of their employees. These clients effectively became members of staff under the scheme.
The firm paid EBT benefits into the U.K. accounts of staff, on which they paid little or no tax, according to the U.K's Mirror newspaper. And now hundreds of workers could be at risk of bankruptcy with the HMRC demanding the cash, according to the report.