John Caudwell regrets loaning Boris Becker a million pounds.
The Phones 4U founder admitted he didn’t “have any happy memories” of lending the 54-year-old tennis champion a considerable bit of bunce after he faced bankruptcy after losing £35 million and is now serving a two and half year sentence and facing deportation to Germany after hiding £2.5 million worth of assets.
The 69-year-old billionaire told The Times newspaper: “He’s not my mate. I met Boris through one of my companies, Signia Wealth [a private investment company]. He did some speaking for us and we were friendly. Boris then employed my daughter as his PA for a while and when he got into financial difficulty I was persuaded to make a loan; not something I wanted to do, but the consequences were going to be bad for Boris. It was very low interest for three months, but then, because of all the paperwork, the interest kicked in. Well, he never paid it back in three months. It was a miserable event really. In court he said the interest rate was prohibitive — he used me as an excuse, basically. I don’t have happy memories, but sometimes you do favours for people and they backfire.”
John also expressed his disgust at corporations – such as Apple, Google and Amazon – and “tax loopholes” after being ordered to pay £15 million to the tax man after taking advantage of offshore trusts after he paid himself in gold bars.
He said: “Would I pay myself in gold bars now? No, it was wrong. Legal, but wrong. In fairness I needed every penny to go back into my fledgling business. But there shouldn’t be any tax loopholes.”
John added: “I try and get people to boycott Apple, Google and Amazon — what they do to avoid paying tax is awful. It’s dreadful and disgusting because they’re stopping sick children or people in desperate financial need from being looked after. What can we do? Corporation tax fixed at 15 per cent globally would be a start.”
“But I paid full UK tax. I know wealthy friends who think I’m the world’s biggest mug, but I see it differently. I look forward to a time when they are the ones who feel silly. Not paying tax is morally abhorrent.”
John detailed how he “took tranquillisers” to cope working 22 hour days at two different jobs; at a Michelin outlet and at a car auction house before he hit the big time with his telecoms company.