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If you thought you were having a bad day when you woke up this morning and remembered it was Monday, find some consolation in the fact that it can’t possibly have been as bad as it was for Lord Sewel. The former chairman of committees has been forced to surrender his prestigious position at the House of Lords after a video was leaked allegedly showing him taking cocaine off a prostitute’s cleavage, through a rolled up five-pound note.


This scandal comes just days after the former Toshiba boss, Hisao Tanaka steps down from employment at the multinational corporation following a £780m accounting hiccup. Independent investigators discovered that Toshiba had been dramatically overstating its operating profits and pushing back recording of losses and charges for around six years. Tanaka claims to have never requested the falsification of any accounts but agreed to resign from this long-standing position in efforts to maintain market trust.

Mainstream media simply thrives on scandalous activity and readers just revel in the publicising of heinous activity and by golly, there have been some corkers over the years. From financial scams and widespread tax evasion to a whole host of unsavoury sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, MPs, politicians, celebrities and major public figures sure know how to create an eye-catching headline. From seemingly squeaky-clean popstars to international CEOs, everyone is at it and we’ve pulled together some of the most memorable.

Joke’s on you now, Jimmy Carr!

In 2012 it transpired that popular comedian, Jimmy Carr had been part of an offshore tax-evasion scheme and was in fact, the largest beneficiary. The K2 Tax Scheme managed to conceal £168m per year from the taxman and enabled Mr Carr to annually rake in more than £3m. The Jersey-based operation involved over 1,000 tax avoiders and meant wealthy Brits could pay as little as 1% income. Although the system was entirely immoral, it wasn’t illegal.

HSBC hangs head in money-laundering shame

Jimmy Carr wasn’t the only one publically exposed for his financial trickery in 2012; by the end of the year, HSBC had completed a £1.2bn payback following a high-profile money laundering investigation. The multi-billion pound reimbursement was paid to US authorities after it was discovered that the bank’s lax policies and serious rule violations had lead the country’s financial system to be exposed to drug trafficking, terrorist financing and money laundering.

HSBC’s Mexican affiliate managed to channel $7bn dollars into the US between 2007 and 2008, and the bank also provided services to lenders who were helping fund al-Qaeda and other dangerous terrorist groups. The bank has since pumped more money and employment into tightening its anti-money laundering provisions.

Take that: mullion-million pound payback

Take That members Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald are certainly no strangers to mass media headlines, being part of one of the most famous boybands of this generation but last year they made front page for all the wrong reasons. It was revealed that the trio had been paying into the Icebreaker Management Partnership scheme, which was a tax-avoidance system operating under the guise of supporting emerging music projects. Barlow fell victim to a vicious Twitter hack, nearly lost his OBE title and the three were forced to complete a £20m payback. Ouch!

Starbucks forced to wake up and smell the coffee

Take That wasn’t the only brand disappointing fans across the country during 2014 either, Starbucks was also high on hit lists after admitting to a multi-million pound corporation tax dodge. As the year drew to a close, Starbucks completed a £20m payback after it was discovered that the company had paid virtually no corporation tax in the UK since launching across the country 16 years previously. The public row cost the chain a significant amount of custom through angry protestors and campaign groups.

The infamous Olympus

The Olympus scandal is perhaps one of the most unforgettable to date and threw Japan into mayhem way before Toshiba’s current accountancy disgrace. The scandal came to light in October 2011 and revealed that the company had been involved in a ‘tobashi scheme’, which transfers losses to another portfolio company via an investment firm.

Michael Woodford was appointed CEO just two weeks before the story hit the headlines and was made aware of the operation.  He publicised his concerns and was subsequently ousted from his newly-accepted position and replaced by board chairman Tsuyoski Kikukawa. Investigation followed and uncovered £680m worth of investment losses as well as a string of other payments that had gone unknown to shareholders. Stock market dropped by 75-80% and almost 3,000 staff were dismissed, while some employs resigned and others were arrested.

About The Author

Stephanie Whalley

Serial snacker, compulsive cocktail sipper and full time wordsmith with a penchant for alliteration, all things marketing and pineapple on pizza.

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