Branson, who’s net worth is reported at $4.4 billion, made the offer in a blog post today, trying to obtain a £500 million lifeline for Virgin Atlantic to help it through the “devastating impact this [COVID-19] pandemic continues to have.”
Branson revealed that he was offering up his private isle in the tax-free British Virgin Islands – which he bought in 1978 for $180,000 – in an attempt to persuade the UK government to help save “as many jobs as possible” and prevent his airline from going bankrupt. PM Boris Johnson’s administration has reportedly turned down his £500 million bailout request.
Branson’s latest move in response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak, which has severely hit the airline industry, has been dismissed online as mere “PR posturing.”
It’s not the first time Branson, who was dubbed a“tax refugee”, has come under strident criticism for seeking state support.
“He lives in the British Virgin Islands and since the UK has no worldwide taxation, [he] pays no taxes. Yet wants the UK taxpayer’s backstop,” one blistering tweet said.
The British businessman moved assets worth $1.1 billion from the US to the British Virgin Islands in March, highlighting his use of tax havens as he attempts to minimize his losses during the coronavirus crisis.