Response to Paul Staines AKA Guido Fawkes
Couple of points
Firstly Vix is not my Wife. We have three children together.
Secondly ,certainly I provide resources like many other multinationals, some of which are ( Hardwoods suitable for Notre Dame Lakes Lover ), but that ,I am afraid is where the comparison ends. We currently control, in nineteen countries, some 390,000Ha of land, including forest, which to put it in terms you can easily relate is about 20,000Ha bigger than Essex. We remain a private company not listed on a stock exchange because that allows us to operate in Mondragon fashion that neoliberal markets find unacceptable, that is, putting people and communities over profits .
Under active exploitation for resources in mines etc ( excepting agriculture more on that later ) at this time is 7,000 hectares. Our exploitation strategy is as follows.
Occasionally it is desirable to use wood as an alternative to other construction materials. For instance a 20 meter 60cm by 80cm beam of Karelian pine has only one tenth of the embedded energy of the equivalent steel beam in its production including transport to the site, and it looks better too
We do not clear fell ,except in circumstances of where we inherit a monoculture cash crop plantation of say poplar/spruce, where post extraction the land is either returned to agriculture , planted with mixed forest suitable for location or entirely rewilded. Even this clearance is usually phased over many years and concurrent with new plantings to allow wildlife migration
Ancient woodlands under our stewardship are sacrosanct and are not exploited save for access track management but , strictly protected along with their biodiversity. This accounts for some 50,000 Hectares
Old Woodland >15 years accounts for 110,000 hectares. We do extract hardwoods here, however our extraction rates of <80 m3 are about 1/6th of the British Forestry Commission recommendations that you can find here .
We also replant a multiplier of 15 for every hectare we fell.Though in some instances where I feel it necessary for biodiversity improvement this will rise to as high as 25 times.
New planting <15years old
We have 80,000 Ha of this, all mixed woodland natives for zone, better than 90% of which I have planted in the last decade using profits from the other sustainably managed forests . This is actively managed for development into long term productive forest with a life cycle measured in centuries.During this growth stage there is a large biomass potential ( usually from coppiced areas ) that is used for carbon neutral energy production. About 30% of this forest has been directly added to mosaics of ancient forest ( rewilding ) that had been denuded by over exploitation to increase their areas and improve wildlife corridors. One of those plantings in Romania is close on 2000 ha and has been named Bob Keats in tribute to my dear friend and environmental mentor who died last year.
If all Balkans woodland was managed to the same environmental and biodiversity regime that we work to I would be extremely happy. Gone would be large monoculture cash crop plantations , ancient woodland denudation would stop, and at the same rates of planting ,the area of deciduous woodland would have increased by 300-400% by 2050 and would continue to be productive for a millennium after that.
The remaining 150,000 Hectares under our control is used for agricultural production in approximately the following split. 30% food production, a mixture of grains and root, though some orchards too. 30% vegetal oils production, primarily sunflower, some rape the main two products are oil for conversion to biodiesel which we run our mining fleet on 100% and a waste cake which is used in combined heat and power stations in the local communities to provide clean energy. At any given time a further 30% is fallow to allow bird and animal habitat as well as being in line with extensive farming techniques. The remaining 10% some 15,000Ha , so to visualise , half of Essex, East or West ,take your choice ,is in the process of being permanently rewilded.
I think personally those credentials are pretty good compared to virtually every other forestry company
Let’s turn to primary resource extraction. Anyone who tells you mining is sustainable is a liar. It’s a finite resource so by definition it can’t be. Xannat came about because I used to work for a very large FTSE 100 as a senior manager responsible for a large chunk of Eurasia. For varying reasons around the financial crash an opportunity to take over a collection of sites came up. Many were unsuitable for asset bleeding by them or were deemed in ‘ difficult’ operational areas, indeed I lost an eye to gangsters in one of those difficulties. I have almost 200 'operating' sites across Eurasia, many of which had seen up to a century of exploitation, some with extreme ecological/environmental problems. Currently we control 19 separate companies, actively working in just 46 of those sites. The rest, I have painstakingly , over the last decade , rehabilitated , far and above any standard required by law and at a cost virtually every other multinational simply would not meet. Much of this work is still ongoing , ALL of the sites we operate or we are cleaning up were left damaged by previous owners including governments. In our operations involved in construction ,the same ethos applies ,our first material usage is always recycled materials from site with only the shortfall met by primary extraction.
Our current active operations run on 100% renewable energy. They are the recognised benchmark in the region for environmental performance. are the number one operator in the region for employee safety by a very large margin. Lives matter over profit every time. We do not treat our colleagues in any country any differently to how a UK employee would be treated, our guidelines, often exceeded,, are the HSE’s 1999 Quarry legislation which is by far the worlds best. Most importantly 90% of the profit operations generate is invested directly back into the regions where the extraction occurs, I think my nearest multinational competitor barely scrapes 3%. This is by paying twice the standard salary , direct sponsorship of communities as part of engagement plans and investments in local infrastructure for what will be eventually a post industrial location. I do not mean the odd scout hut, I mean hundreds of kilometres of roads, bridges , drainage systems, water treatment plants, schools , new rural businesses supported by zero interest loans.
We were also unfortunate enough to be caught up in two major conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. Many communities we worked in, and a fair number of our colleagues were initially internally displaced in their own countries, many heartbreakingly going on to become refugees. I have spent a good proportion of the last five years building camps to provide shelter for these, and others fleeing the violence. We have covered entirely not just the construction of these , but ongoing maintenance and support in those sites in an attempt to ,in some small part mitigate suffering on a biblical scale.
Such was this cost , that not only did I forego a salary ( even when I take one I only pay myself a multiple of nine times the company median salary remember ) but also due dividends from other shareholdings were redirected to the point where I took a conscious decision to halt the work on our own house and redirect those funds in order to provide shelter to others in dire need. That has certainly annoyed some residents and the MP resident of a UK village, but morally I can sleep better at night listening to their complaints about a little untidiness than I can with digging solid frozen children out of snowdrifts because they were unlucky enough not to fall out of a British womb.
Xannat international ( Seycelles ) is at head of group. It’s an inherited company created as part of the share\asset acquisition of a host of companies in twenty six countries. It’s single function was to consolidate intracompany debt into one structure. Capital flow has been one way, that is out . Not one £ has been delivered into it in the way of offshored dividends or profits. Funds that did come in and it held were directed to use in various countries as local capital increases or to be used directly in disaster relief.
Unusually I know for a multinational, we work entirely transparently with all the tax authorities in the jurisdictions we operate. Also with Transparency International in the issues of companies obligations to the communities they affect ( you can find an example of that here )
All of our business streams in their various localities pay their full local tax obligation in that jurisdiction. I mean the full. We do not offshore profits or dividends in a double Dutch\Irish as say many large British companies ,bloggers or Merchant Banks do. Some long term loans exist from outside, seed capital etc, as well as amounts from capital disposals that were consolidated at group level and then reinvested locally where there was perhaps an inherited shortfall, or there was a particular pressing local situation in the community that the local business could not support financially.
Our inherited main holding and control companies are actually a group of fully regulated Dutch BV’s , but again they do nothing, except provide an overarching structure for the local businesses , and certainly are not used as offshore tax efficiencies as some British families linked to political figures have perhaps utilised.
My consolidated group accounts are audited by among others Deloittes, Fidexpert . I work with Transparency International as part of the Ethical Extraction scheme. We have no shareholders, no external debt, no joint ventures ,only stakeholders.
As for revenues we ourselves take as a family. Pitifully small I’m afraid. I don’t take any more than nine times the median salary with the group, luckily I pay my colleagues well compared to the rest of the sector, but my remittance is certainly much much less than you earn as a pundit, plus of course I take no bonus, sharing anything like that among those who enabled it in the company.
Were I to operate as most City institutions , it is true after all I manage a consolidated turnover significantly larger than many hedge funds, I would be I suppose quite a wealthy individual. As it is following the Modrogan model we reinvest 90% of the profit we generate directly back into the communities we operate in, the remaining being used for charitable purposes outside .
Now can you say the same about Multinationals or Political actors you have worked for and taken payment from? For your Nevis company? Can you say the same ethical standards as regards to taxation or profit are followed by those funds where your pension resides? If you can’t then I suggest you step back to the sideline that you are shouting at this election from and watch quietly because for every finger pointed there would seem to be three pointing back.