In this first of two articles, we focus on four of the West Midland’s wealthiest billionaires.
What is a billion?
At this point, it is important to put a billion pounds into perspective. I do not want to give the impression that anyone who earns a high figure salary or does well for themselves doesn’t deserve to live as they please. I do not want to meet hard work with extortionate taxes. But I feel that if an individual has a billion, they’ve accumulated more than enough. If you’ve got multiple billions, you’ve got to ask yourself: am I a hoarder? Answer, yes.
The BBC outline nicely what one could get for a billion pounds. But for some fun, let’s have a little play with our calculators.
In terms of wages, in the UK you’re likely to be paid around £38,000 per annum on average. Many people are paid less, many people are paid more, but that’s an issue for another time. Earning this salary, provided you spend nothing at all, it will take you a staggering 26,315 years to earn a billion pounds. Say it again: 26,315 years. Approximately 325 lifetimes (81 years, UK average) to make 1 billion pounds.
If you need to spend your money on food, housing and clean drinking water like so many of us do, it will take you even longer. The average outgoings for a family stand at £30,000, leaving you with a total of £8000 to save away. At this rate, you’re looking at 125,000 years to save up your first billion! Or 1543 lifetimes!
Now I hear you ask: how does one make multiple billions in a lifetime? The short answer is that they don’t. They own billions. By luck and good fortune, billionaires accumulate their vast wealth off the backs of thousands of employees. It takes the work of many to make a billion, and through dodgy and outdated systems those in charge take the cream of the crop for themselves.
So, with that settled, let’s get this show on the road.
Before we get started, it’s important to know that hoarding is a serious mental condition and help for yourself or those you care about can be sought here.
For the everyday person, compulsive hoarding of excess money and belongings is a recognised mental health condition. But if you’re rich, you’re a hero! You’ll be praised for being rich, affluent and spending your cash on frivolous status symbols while millions starve to death.
It’s time to stop glorifying the mega-rich and time to start sharing the wealth around. After all, you don’t make a billion dollars. You take a billion dollars from overworked and underpaid employees.
Today’s contestants: West Midland’s billionaires
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of our very own local billionaires. Particularly looking at how they came by, use and maintain their immense wealth. With any luck they’ll be donating their billions in no time.
Our Richy-Rich list is based on BirminghamLive’s Midland’s affiliated billionaires list. The selection process for their list emphasises that their fortunes enrich the West Midlands. However, that is something we shall decide for ourselves!
1. Nassef Sawiris, Aston Villa football and construction – hoarding amount: £7.5 billion
While pegged as a footballing hero, Nassef Sawiris has fallen on hard times. It appears that Sawiri’s hoarding of cash found him in hot water when his company Orascom Construction faced legal action after evading tax payments following the sale of his company in 2007. This landed Sawiris with a three year prison sentence. I wonder if they allow special rooms for VIP inmates to snuggle next to their cash at night. Thanks to a military coup in Egypt, I guess we’ll never find out, as Sawiri’s sentence was dropped. However this is rather telling of his attitude to paying his fair share in tax. Maybe not such a champion of British business after all.
2. Lord Bamford and his family, JCB – hoarding amount: £4.8 billion
Far from surprisingly, an unelected lord has been caught up in wrong-doing. At one time the House of Lords was a noble idea, yet nowadays it has become cheapened and bloated by Tory corruption. Besides running a construction empire, the JCB chairman took off the hard hat in exchange for the all-too-familiar silver spoon. Bamford attended several dinners with former PM David Cameron and fits the brand perfectly as a Tory donor. Sources reveal Bamford donated £50,000 to get access to the PM. At those rates, why stop at a dinner? Invest a whole million and set up cameras in Downing St for a politically-driven Tory-led Big Brother!
Speaking of brothers, a legal claim by Bamford’s own brother showed that at least £130 million was siphoned off from JCB group accounts and into the back pocket of Mr and Mrs Bamford. Something Lord Bamford went to a lot of trouble to hide from public view.
Additionally, Bamford has found himself in a jam after citing JCB as a British-born British-based icon of business while also being caught out for running the company from four offshore trusts in efforts to escape taxations on the 59 million pounds in yearly dividends. So much for champion of British taxpayers, more like champion of cashing in on legal loopholes. If only we could all choose not to pay tax on our incomes – such tricks are reserved for the already mega-rich!
It’s OK Mr Bamford, you’re not well, you’re hoarding vast sums of money. We can get you help!
3. Guochuan Lai (West Bromwich Albion) – hoarding amount: £2.2 billion
For those of us that manage to accumulate billions in wealth, there are a few options available – other than just sitting and looking at it as many do. One of these is to buy a football team. Somebody gave this advice to Guochuan Lai as he bought West Bromwich Albion in 2016. Unfortunately, as with many pursuits for billionaires, the fun is in the chase and not in the maintenance. It has been reported that the billionaire has left the club underfunded, snubbing die-hard fans and local stakeholders alike. It seems if you can have it all, you lose interest in your toys pretty quickly. Now I don’t pretend to be a football fan so if you want to read more, go wild.
Fast forward to January 2021 and Lai is looking to sell the club. Easy come easy go, I suppose! Not such a hero to the Midlands after all.
4. Lord Paul of Marylebone and family (Caparo) – hoarding amount: £2 billion
Yet another Tory-appointed Lord up on our list, this one made a fortune in steel to form the ‘Caparo group’ which has property investments across the UK. While he has been seen to donate to the Labour party, it does not save him from the consuming nature of hoarding cash. Despite amassing wealth in the billions, Lord Paul has been reprimanded for abusing expenses, racking up £38,000 in misclaimed expenses.
While no illegality was found, it does sting a bit to know your taxes pay for these hundreds of so-called Lords to rack up £19.1 million in expenses. In addition, the positions have become a hotspot for Tory cronyism which in any other country would simply be labelled corruption.
Essentially, if you’re hoarding billions, you can probably afford to buy a peerage and take more money from the taxpayer for the privilege.
Love them or loath them, they love to bend – or break – the rules to protect their stacks of cash. They’ve got money to spare for football clubs and political donations but not enough to pay their share in taxes or decent wages. It’s clear that billionaires support the West Midlands the way that a shark lets smaller fish eat the tics off its back.
And they’re not showing any signs of stopping. If you want to stop billionaires from avoiding paying their fair share in wages, taxes and show them our politics and democracy isn’t for sale, contact your local MP now and tell them you want change.