Sir Bradley Wiggins' 'shocking tax avoidance' scheme revealed

Sir Bradley Wiggins is now embroiled in tax claims as he battles to clear his name over drugs taking
Sir Bradley Wiggins is now embroiled in tax claims as he battles to clear his name over drugs taking

Sir Bradley Wiggins is facing fresh controversy after claims he invested in a tax avoidance scheme that used a charity as a front and which has since been closed down.

The five-time Olympic gold medal-winning cycling is already to defend himself against claims in a report by MPs that he used performance-enhancing drugs in 2011.

And reports in Tuesday’s Times claim that Wiggins invested in the Cup Trust, a charity that deprived the taxman of around £100m.

Although it was not doing nothing illegal, the charity was closed down after it emerged it was being used by around 400 wealthy individuals to avoid tax. The Trust would have saved the average investor £137,500 in tax payments.

The Times reports that the Trust got £176m of donations in 2010 and 2011 but only gave £150,000 to good causes and carried out trades to generate gift aid claims that could help reduce the tax bills of donors.

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HM Revenue and Customs turned down an appeal by the charity to claim £46m in gift aid.

It is not known how much Wiggins put into the scheme and a spokesman for him told the Times: “He settled all tax liabilities a number of years ago and has paid all taxes due” and that there were “no open inquiries with HMRC”.

Margaret Hodge, ex-head of the Commons public accounts committee, described it as one of the most shocking of all tax avoidance schemes.

She said: “To exploit a mechanism designed to encourage charitable giving in order to avoid tax is just disgusting.”

Meanwhile, Wiggins defended himself against claims by MPs that injections that were to treat asthma were in fact used to cut his weight

Wiggins won the 2012 Tour de France – the first Briton to do so – eight Olympic medals including five golds and seven world titles.

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However, he was embroiled in the “Jiffy Bag” scandal, a 14-month investigation into a package delivered to him at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine which contained a legal drug – Fluimucil – a decongestant that Wiggins took to help relieve his asthma.

UK Anti-Doping closed its investigation into the package after being unable to find evidence that it contained a banned substance, but this week the Digital, Cuture, Media and Sport Committee levelled two charges against Wiggins and Team Sky that the drug was used to “enhance the performances of riders and not just to treat medical need”.

In an interview with the BBC Wiggins strongly denied all the claims and added: “I’d have had more rights if I’d murdered someone”.

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