An Aberdeen based oil firm has been forced to deny any wrongdoing as the fallout from the so-called Paradise Papers continues to cause shockwaves throughout the global business community.
Ithaca Energy, a North Sea focused oil and gas operator, was the latest firm to be questioned by the BBC over tax arrangements.
According to the BBC, the leaked Paradise Papers suggest that Ithaca set up a “shell” company in Bermuda in 2012 in order to purchase an oil production platform.
The broadcasting corporation went on to further allege that the “shell” was being managed from Scotland and Canada and not from Bermuda.
But Ithaca denied any wrongdoing when confronted by a BBC reporter in Aberdeen, according to footage put on the broadcaster’s website.
In the clip, Ithaca’s chief executive officer Les Thomas told the reporter that the Bermudian company existed in order to “hold an asset that we have a share of”.
Mr Thomas added: “It’s convenient for future deals that we may do, it’s a complex business.”
The chief executive also denied that the company was created for “tax purposes”.
When contacted by Energy Voice, Ithaca’s chief financial officer Graham Forbes accused the BBC of trying to “manufacture” a story about tax avoidance.
Mr Forbes said: “The BBC are building a story around avoiding tax – the existence of the Ithaca Company in Bermuda, which we have disclosed in our financial statements every quarter since incorporation in 2012, will not impact the amount of UK tax paid by one penny hence by definition there is no avoidance of tax – that was not its purpose, however unfortunate that is for the story the BBC are trying to manufacture.”
Ithaca, now owned by Israeli firm Delek Group, achieved first oil from the Stella field in the first six months of 2017.
The field is part of the Greater Stella Area (GSA), located about 175miles east of Aberdeen in the central North Sea.
Ithaca is the operator of Stella and Harrier with 54.66% working interests.
The firm has varying levels of interest in a number of other North Sea assets.