Sir Richard Branson Defends Farewell To Britain
Sir Richard Branson, who has spent decades flying the flag for British business through his Virgin brand, has said he decided to move to a Caribbean tax haven for his health.
The entrepreneur has reportedly sold his Oxfordshire estate and will spend his 60s living on Necker - the island he bought in the 1970s and recently rebuilt after a devastating fire.
The Sunday Times said the move meant the entrepreneur would not be required to pay any tax on personal income made outside Britain, although he would still be taxed on UK earnings.
His companies, which include airlines, balloon flights and health clubs, will also pay a significant amount of corporation tax.
However, in a blog posted on Sunday, Sir Richard stressed he had lived in the British Virgin Islands for seven years and would not live somewhere he did not want to simply to pay less tax.
"I have not left Britain for tax reasons, but for my love of the beautiful British Virgin Islands and in particular Necker Island, which I bought when I was 29 years old, 34 years ago, as an uninhabited island on the edges of the BVI.
"Seven years ago we decided to move permanently to Necker as we feel it gives me and my wife Joan the best chance to live another productive few decades. We can also look after our health - Joan is approaching 70 and I'm not far behind.
"I still work day and night, now focusing on not-for-profit ventures, but on Necker I can also look after my health. There is no better place to stay active and I can kitesurf, surf, play tennis, swim, do Pilates and just play."
Sir Richard also said he spends most of his time starting not-for-profit ventures, the income from which is donated to charity.
"I spent 40 years working day and night in Great Britain building companies and creating competition and choice for consumers across a whole range of industries," he wrote.
"The companies we created from scratch have created tens of thousands of jobs and paid hundreds of millions in tax.
"Now in my 60s I'm proud of what we've achieved and contributed and now spend the vast majority of my time building not-for-profit ventures, raising awareness around important issues and earning money for charity."
Sir Richard started the Virgin brand as a mail order record retailer in 1970 and founded the Virgin Atlantic airline 14 years later.
He is Britain's sixth wealthiest man with a £2.9bn fortune, according to Forbes magazine.