Lena Wilson, the £200,000-a-year CEO of Scottish Enterprise picks up an extra £55,000 a year for working one day a month at Intertek Group Picture: Gordon Terris
Lena Wilson, the £200,000-a-year chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, picks up an extra £55,000 for working one day a month as a non-executive director of London-based Intertek Group plc.
Her outside post provoked a storm of protest when announced last June, with many MSPs saying she should focus on creating jobs for Scotland.
Now, with public anger growing over the low tax paid by firms such as Amazon and Starbucks, Wilson's role is doubly controversial.
Last week it was reported that Intertek, which runs industrial testing laboratories worldwide, paid no UK corporation tax in 2011 despite a pre-tax profit of £213 million. However, it did pay tax to foreign governments.
Now the Sunday Herald can reveal that while Wilson's employer was paying taxes overseas, it paid UK corporation tax in just two years since 2002 – £0.7m and £0.1m in 2003 and 2007 respectively – against gross global operating profits of £1.4 billion.
However, this £0.8m was more than offset by tax reliefs of £8.8m on overseas earnings, meaning the Intertek firm paid no net UK corporation tax.
The company last night said that after a series of losses it expected to pay UK corporation tax in two or three years' time.
In a leaked Cabinet paper published last week, Finance Secretary John Swinney said tax collection was helped by "a public climate that regards tax avoidance as unacceptable".
Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: "SNP ministers have employed Ms Wilson - Not only have they allowed her to top up her six-figure salary, it now appears it's with a company which is happy to kick the economy when its down. As Mr Swinney approved this appointment he should investigate this and really think if it's the right message to send to responsible businesses in Scotland."
Dave Watson, Scottish organiser of Unison, which is campaigning against tax-dodging companies getting public-sector contracts, said: "Government must take action against companies which don't pay UK corporation tax. So to have government officials working for them certainly sends out the wrong message."
Wilson's second job was unprecedented for a Scottish Enterprise chief, but was endorsed by its chair, Crawford Gillies, and Swinney.
Wilson freed up more personal time for Intertek by quitting the board of a charity for young people, the Prince's Youth Business Trust.
Asked why Intertek had effectively paid no corporation tax since 2002, a spokeswoman said: "Whilst we do currently make a small profit in the UK we had previously made a loss over many years and these previous losses can be offset against the current profit."
Scottish Enterprise spokeswoman said: "This is a matter for Intertek to discuss – we do not comment on the tax arrangements of individual companies."
Scottish Enterprise also said Wilson did not wish to comment, as she was bound by a duty of confidentiality to Intertek.
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