AS it revels in the glamour of the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend, few Formula One fans in Scotland will be worrying about the financial structures of the sport.

We should all maybe be paying a bit more attention, however, following news that American investors used controversial Scottish “zero tax” shell firms in their $8bn takeover of this most wealthy of sports.

US-based Liberty Media ended the 40-year reign of Bernie Ecclestone earlier this year with the help of two Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs) created in Aberdeen.

There is no suggestion of illegality on the part of Liberty Media.

But such business structure arrangements are becoming increasingly popular with both legitimate business who indulge in lawful tax planning – a practice many would view as tax avoidance – and, as the Herald has been reporting for some months, international criminals, who utilise them for money laundering.

The details of SLPs will likely come as something of a shock to those who have little say over how much tax they pay due to the fact it is taken off at source: these “partnerships” are anonymous, require no accounts or taxes provided their two partners are based in a tax haven, and can easily be bought online.

The criminals like them because, unlike their English equivalents, they can be used to buy assets, without the need to file accounts or pay taxes.

And growth and scale of SLP use - from almost nil in 2001 to a high of more than 5,000 set-up last year – suggests not only a need for examination and oversight, but more immediate action to stop the lawbreaking.

Not surprisingly, politicians from all parties are in agreement that more should be done to stop the laundering in Scotland of many millions of pounds of dirty money each year.

This, unfortunately, is where the consensus ends. Scottish law firms, who have created a successful cottage industry for themselves out of offering SLPs to firms for tax planning purposes, are against more radical change – such as removing the right of SLPs to buy assets – because they say it would hurt their legitimate businesses.

Instead, the Law Society of Scotland argues there should be a wider examination of the overall abuse of UK corporate structures and a toughening of regulation around the creation firms.

The Society is right to question the UK system in its entirety, and to argue for better regulation. But it is surely wrong to oppose thorough reform of SLPs.

After all, although tax evasion is a thorn in the side of the Government and wider society, tax avoidance is a significant problem too, particularly in the eyes of a public that is still feeling the pinch of austerity and seeing increasingly severe cuts to their public services.

The public, by and large, believe that every individual and business should pay their fair share of tax, and the Law Society perhaps overestimates the sympathy PAYE taxpayers will have with the plight of their often very wealthy customers.

Indeed, it would do well to remember that for many tax is a moral as well as a corporate question.