Lionel Messi Tax Fraud Trial Opens in Spain

Lionel Messi Tax Fraud Trial Opens in Spain
The trial of Argentina and Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi on tax fraud charges has begun in Spain. Messi and his father Jorge, who manages his financial affairs, are accused of defrauding Spain of more than €4m (£3m; $4.5m) between 2007 and 2009.

The authorities allege that the two used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights. The Spanish tax agency is demanding heavy fines and prison sentences. They deny any wrongdoing.

The trial is expected to last for three days, with Messi appearing in court on Thursday.

The income related to Messi’s image rights, including contracts with Banco Sabadell, Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter and Gamble, and the Kuwait Food Company.

Messi’s lawyers had argued that the player had “never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing” the contracts. But the high court in Barcelona ruled in June 2015 that the football star should not be granted immunity for not knowing what was happening with his finances, which were being managed in part by his father.

Messi and his father made a voluntary €5m (£3.8m, $5.6m) “corrective payment” – equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest – in August 2013.

Messi is the five-time World Player of the Year and one of the richest athletes in the world.

Maintaining a Clean Working Environment

The Advantages of Maintaining a Clean Working Environment
Having a well maintained office can benefit your business in far more ways than you may first think, and can really add to the continued success and growth of any company.  The environment around us can have a huge impact on the way we feel, act and even think, so paying attention to how well you look after your workspace can have a really positive effect on how well the rest of your company performs.

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The first impression that a customer or visitor has of your company will play a major part in how they perceive your business, a pleasant office with presentable, efficient staff is far more likely to appear reliable and professional than somewhere that appears shambolic and disorganised.

A well organised workplace makes it far easier for employees to find essential items, making it possible for them to carry out tasks far more effectively.

Making sure that working areas such as desks are well equipped and clutter free helps to prevent staff from being distracted while working, helping them to be far more productive during their working day.  Staff members with a well organised desk give a far more professional and hard working impression to customers and visitors.

Having tidy and comfortable area to hold meetings will be far easier for members to focus on the subject being discussed, take notes or show presentations.

Knowing that your office has strict hygiene standard can help to reduce employee sickness rates as it will be far more difficult for bugs and germs to spread among staff member, a clear and tidy working space also means accidents will be far less likely.

Maintaining a clean and tidy workplace will help you ensure your meet health and safety standards and be far less likely to be sued if an accident does take place.

People that are given an attractive and comfortable workplace are more likely to feel valued by their employer and satisfied within their jobs.  Working in a messy disordered environment is more likely to cause stress to employees, affecting their performance and making them more likely to seek employment elsewhere.

Making sure that the building, fixtures, fittings and equipment that you use is kept clean and well looked after means they are likely to have a far longer lifespan, saving you money in replacements and repairs.

As many businesses recognise the importance of having a clean and well presented workplace they view hiring professional cleaning services as a worthwhile investment, having reliable and trustworthy cleaners that make sure everything is consistently clean and well organised is a valuable asset for any business and key to the smooth day to day running of any organisation.

Having the peace of mind that everything has been cleaned ready for the working day is the ideal way to ensure you can greet customers and other visitors with confidence, nothing is more embarrassing than having no clean cups to serve coffee.

The Solution: Complete Cleaning Contracts
Complete Cleaning Contracts is one of the top office cleaners in Edinburgh. We offer comprehensive services for companies large and small and will work with you to meet your exact requirements for maintaining a clean office environment.   No job is too big or too small! For more information about our office cleaning services, call us today on call us today on 0131 549 8107 or visit Complete Cleaning Contracts of Edinburgh website and find out how we can help your office environment clean make a great first impression.

EU Referendum: Vote Leave Wants Power to Axe Fuel VAT

EU Referendum: Vote Leave Wants Power to Axe Fuel VAT
Tories Michael Gove and Boris Johnson and Labour’s Gisela Stuart wrote in the Sun that the tax on energy bills cannot be scrapped because of EU rules.
Chancellor George Osborne said this was “fantasy land” economics. Remain campaigners accused Vote Leave of promising a “make-believe land of milk and honey” if the UK left the EU.
There is one week left to register to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June.
The Electoral Commission says that, even after recent surges in registrations, many people are still not signed up to vote.
Follow the latest updates with BBC EU Referendum Live
EU referendum: All you need to know
Issues guide: Explore the arguments
Sign up for the BBC’s weekly EU referendum email
In their article, the Vote Leave politicians said they would seek to spend some of the cash saved by quitting the EU on cutting VAT from household gas and electricity bills, a tax imposed by a Conservative government in 1993.
“The least wealthy are hit particularly hard,” they wrote. “The poorest households spend three times more of their income on household energy bills than the richest households spend. As long as we are in the EU, we are not allowed to cut this tax. When we Vote Leave, we will be able to scrap this unfair and damaging tax. It isn’t right that unelected bureaucrats in Brussels impose taxes on the poorest and elected British politicians can do nothing.”
Mr Osborne tweeted his attack on Vote Leave’s claim, saying leaving the EU would lead to a smaller economy, “a hole in public finances” and higher taxes including VAT.
Remain campaigners also released a report which they said detailed Leave’s “unaffordable” spending commitments. They said more than 20 commitments, totalling £110bn, had been made – eclipsing the potential saving from leaving the EU.
Vote Leave said the Remain report contained “made-up” figures and that they had simply illustrated how money could be spent outside the EU.
Meanwhile, Business Secretary Sajid Javid will warn of the impact of leaving the EU on small and medium-sized enterprises. He will cite Department for Business, Innovation and Skills analysis, estimating that 8% export to the EU and a further 15% are in the supply chains of other businesses that export to the EU.
Britain Stronger in Europe said that amounted to about 1.2m firms.
Mr Javid said: “Britain’s small businesses are stronger, safer and better off in Europe. “If we leave the EU, small firms are on the front line and that’s a gamble with people’s livelihoods I’m not willing to take.”
But Vote Leave’s John Longworth said the government’s figures were “extremely questionable”.
He said: “I agree with what Sajid Javid used to say about the EU – before he changed his mind for reasons we can only guess at. EU rules damage all British businesses, and smaller businesses in particular – and hold us back from trading freely with the rest of the world.”

Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs SEO

Four Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs SEO
In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial to the success of any small business. People research services online before doing anything else, and they often find companies through searching on Google.

bannerSEO is the practice of helping your website to rank on page one or page two for certain keywords. By ranking highly in search results for specific keywords, you can attract more traffic to your website.

Did you know that 61% of global Internet users research products online, before making any purchase at all? This statistic, conducted by a HubSpot survey, shows the importance of having your small business rank well in search results. With every passing year, millions of new users are joining the Internet and starting to research products. This number will only increase with time.

In this article, you’ll learn the crucial importance of SEO for your small business.

1. You’ll Rank Well For Important Keywords

If you build a strong online presence through linkbuilding and make your website a robust and mobile-friendly website (just two of the factors that are essential for SEO), your rankings on Google search result pages will increase. The higher you go on the pages, the more people will see your website and click on it. Although it takes a long time and much work to get to page one for local keywords, it is very doable.

Hundreds of people could be searching for a small business like yours, but since you’re not on page one or page two, they’ll never be able to find you. If you offer a great product or service, this is quite a loss, indeed. By employing SEO and applying it to your website, you can start to rise in the ranks and pick up on these potential clients.

Let’s say you have a business that insulates windows in Devon. There are hundreds of searches each month for the keyword “window insulation devon”. If your website ranks highly for that term, the searcher will find your website and could become a client of yours.

2. You’ll Build Traffic To Your Website

The higher your website ranks, the more traffic it will receive. With traffic and interested people, you can use these to your advantage. You can direct them to email newsletters, social media channels, contact details or even, your services/products page. Getting sustainable traffic will ensure that you have a constant flow of potential clients coming to your website.

It is difficult to get traffic to your website using outbound techniques, like direct mail advertising. You might get an interested customer or two, but this isn’t sustainable. With a high ranking on Google search results, you will have a constant stream of traffic, allowing your website to grow in popularity and essentially, this will lead to more potential clients or customers finding you.

3. You’ll RankWell on Google MyPlaces

Local SEO involves targeting searchers in your local area who are looking for a product or service. Often, Google will display businesses in that area, who have a Google MyPlaces page. Using SEO, you can rank well on search results and have your own part in the Google MyPlaces page.

This will give you more exposure not just in search results, but also on the Google MyPlaces section of the search page (it is to the right of results). Your MyPlaces spot will also include a starred review, from cumulated customer ratings and also, images and a phone number. There are a variety of techniques you can use to rank well, and ultimately, dominate the Google MyPlaces spot.

4. You Can Focus Less On PPC

PPC or paid advertising involves placing ads on Google search results. However, this may lead to a lot of effort which isn’t sustainable. While it may deliver clients (at a price), you need to keep spending on PPC to keep your traffic coming.

With SEO, your website will rank on search results, and a constant stream of traffic will come to your website. Provided your website offers a great customer experience, it will more than likely stay in the results. There will be little work on your part, to keep the stream of traffic coming in.

Also, according to Informza, 70-80% of searchers ignore paid ads and focus on organic results. So, the majority of your potential clients could be ignoring your ad, if you decide to advertise with PPC.

Final Thoughts

By ranking well and having a strong online presence, you can attract more clients and ultimately, more sales and money for your business. It will help you build your online exposure and reach while picking up on many potential clients at the same time.

While SEO takes more work, it is sustainable, and once the foundations are made, your website will attract traffic for years to come.

For information on how Direct Submit SEO services can help your business get noticed on the Internet, call today on 0845 2722350 or visit our Internet Marketing website.

FTSE 100 Edges Higher

FTSE 100 Edges Higher
The London market edged higher at the start of trade, but shares in the Daily Mail’s parent company slid after it reported lower profits. The FTSE 100 index was up 7.57 points at 6,270.42, with mining companies among the biggest risers.
Shares in Daily Mail and General Trust fell 8% after the company reported an 11% fall in half-year profits to £129m. Print advertising fell 13%, outstripping increases in digital advertising revenues.
On the currency markets, the pound rose 0.2% against the dollar to $1.4720, and edged up 0.1% against the euro to €1.3191.

Thomas Cook Cabin Crew Vote to Strike

Thomas Cook Cabin Crew Vote to Strike
Thomas Cook cabin crew voted in favour of a strike in a row over health and safety, the Unite union has said. About half of union members voted, with 74% of those backing industrial action in the dispute over rest breaks.
Thomas Cook
Thomas Cook Airlines said plans were in place to make sure customers would still be able to go on holiday in the event of strikes.
The British airline flies more than six million passengers a year to the US, continental Europe, Asia and Africa.
A Unite spokesman said union bosses would hold talks with the airline and conciliation service Acas on Thursday and next Tuesday. He said it was not the union’s intention to disrupt holiday plans during half-term, which for most schoolchildren begins this weekend.
For a strike to go ahead, the union would need to give Thomas Cook seven days’ notice, and that notice has not been served.
Thomas Cook has reduced its cabin crew’s breaks from one 20-minute break every six hours to one 20-minute break every 12 hours worked – the minimum indicated in the Civil Aviation Authority’s guidelines.
Unite says crew should have at least two 20-minute breaks every 12 hours.
A spokesman for Thomas Cook Airlines said: “We’re disappointed Unite cabin crew members have taken the decision to vote for strike action. “The safety of both our people and our customers is our top priority and we rigorously adhere to the rules around crew breaks.” He said the airline was “committed” to working with Unite to find a solution to end the dispute.
“Meanwhile, we’ve put together plans to ensure that our customers will still be able to go on holiday, despite any possible strike action.”

Thomas Cook Airlines has a fleet of 31 planes, employs 2,500 people and has its head office at Manchester Airport.

Is HS2 Rail Link Over Priced

Is HS2 Rail Link Over Priced
HS2 is an over-priced, gold-plated project and will fail in many of its objectives, a group of transport experts has warned. The academics support high-speed rail overall, but say HS2 is five times more expensive than its French equivalent. They argue that the benefits of HS2 can be achieved much more cheaply, with lower CO2 emissions, and they want their analysis examined by government.

A spokesman for HS2 said options for bringing down costs were being studied. But the academics, including some leading lights in transport, list a series of complaints about the current version of HS2.

HS2 has been designed to increase capacity and connections, regenerate the North and reduce climate impacts change. Yet the critics say it will only achieve one of these – capacity. Many key rail journeys, they say, would be worse, including to Nottingham, Stockport and Wakefield.

The academics are especially baffled by the decision to design HS2 to run ultra-fast at 240mph – that’s much faster than the 190mph normal for continental high-speed trains covering much greater distances. One of them, Professor James Croll of UCL, told BBC News: “It is just vanity for the UK to have faster trains than the usual high-speed trains.

“The UK is far too small geographically to need an ultra-high speed network – by the time the trains get up to speed it will be almost time to slow them down again. The decision to design for 240mph has led to a succession of needlessly expensive knock-on effects in construction which will be saddling taxpayers with huge bills for a generation.”

The group says the ultra-fast trains will also push up the carbon emissions the government is committed to reducing. They say the extra speed from ultra-fast services requires 23% more energy, but saves just 3.5 minutes from London to Birmingham.

Professor Tony May from Leeds University told BBC News: “What’s needed is an independent, objective assessment of the alternatives. “These would include a less damaging version of HS2, a better-connected new line from London and transport investment in the North rather than to the North.

Jeremy Heywood, the head of the civil service, has been investigating HS2 in an effort to cut costly elements. He is expected to report to ministers by the summer.

Although Parliament has approved the first two phases of construction, details of the plan are still open to change and some in the Lords are still opposing.

Ben Ruse, lead spokesperson for HS2, told BBC News that HS2 would lure people off cars and trains, and so reduce carbon emissions. He said rail speeds were rising throughout Europe – and keeping the speed lower would only cut carbon minimally. He said: “The railway is being designed for the future. It anticipates faster speeds to ensure the railway can take up future technological innovations without having to create further new railways or adaptations to the HS2 route that would cause further impacts. When asked if HS2 accepted that build costs were five times higher than France he replied: “Some costs, such as the acquisition of land and property, are considerably higher in the UK than in Europe – not least because of this country’s greater urban density.”

Jim Steer, founder of the pro high-speed rail group Greengauge, told BBC News there were many differences between the costs of HS2 and rail in France – but that the calculation of a five-fold difference was “not sound”. He agreed that ultra-fast running would increase CO2 emissions by about 20% but said it was better than people driving cars.

The green movement has been split over HS2, with some veteran campaigners angry with major environmental organisations for not speaking strongly against HS2.

Craig Bennett from Friends of the Earth defended his role. He said there could be a role for HS2 – if it were done properly. But, he said: “We think this HS2 is the wrong project at the wrong time. “We agree that the plan for it to run at very high speed is illogical and will increase carbon emissions. We need a comprehensive national transport strategy to meet low-carbon objectives and we haven’t got it.”

Metro Car & Van Hire

Car and Van Hire in the North East
Metro car and van hire are a North East based business, located close to Newcastle Airport, Newcastle upon Tyne City Centre, Gateshead and all of South Tyneside.

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Established for over a decade, the company has thrived as it has always prided itself on offering a friendly and efficient service from private hire to all types of business hire and leasing.  Providing new cars, minibuses and wide range of vans all available for short and long term rental, all of the hire cars, minibuses and vans come with insurance for at least 2 people, breakdown cover and unlimited mileage options.

Although much of the business Metro attracts is local, they are also a well-known car rentals company for tourists looking to explore the North East, the Scottish Borders, Northumberland and Yorkshire.

The region has a great many attractions included Hadrians Wall, Durham Cathedral and Castle, the twin Anglo-Saxon monasteries at Wearmouth – Jarrow, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and Hexham Abbey to name but a few. For those who enjoy shopping there is of course, Europe’s largest shopping centre, the Metro Centre. And with Christmas approaching now is a great time to visit the hundreds of shops all under one roof.

No visit to the North east would be complete without a visit to Newcastle. United by seven bridges across a spectacular riverscape, Newcastle (a city on the north bank of the River Tyne) and Gateshead (a town on the south bank) form a single, diverse and extremely vibrant visitor destination. With so many different areas each offering new sights, sounds and experiences, you’ll be amazed at how much is on offer whatever your tastes. World-class culture, vibrant nightlife, award-winning dining, inspiring heritage, fantastic shopping and acclaimed architecture are linked here, as nowhere else, by the famous Geordie spirit.

So the next time you visit the region give Metro Rental a call and they can help you ‘access all areas’, whatever type of vehicle you may be after, they can provide it.  For further information simply visit the Metro Rental website or call 0191 4603344 and the friendly staff will be happy to help.

US Hits Chinese Steel Imports with Tax Increase

US Hits Chinese Steel Imports with Tax Increase
The US has raised its import duties on Chinese steelmakers by more than fivefold after accusing them of selling their products below market prices. The taxes of 522% specifically apply to Chinese-made cold-rolled flat steel, which is used in car manufacturing, shipping containers and construction.

The US Commerce Department ruling comes amid heightened trade tensions between the two sides over several products, including chicken parts.
Steel is an especially sensitive issue.

US and European steel producers claim China is distorting the global market and undercutting them by dumping its excess supply abroad. The Commerce Department also levied anti-dumping duties of 71% on Japanese-made cold-rolled steel.

The ruling itself is only directed at what is a small amount of steel from China and Japan and won’t have much of an impact – but it is the politics of the ruling that’s worth noting. It is an election year, and US presidential candidates have been ramping up the rhetoric on what they say are unfair trade practices by China.

US steel makers say that the Chinese government unfairly subsidises its steel exports. Meanwhile China has been under pressure to save its steel sector, which is suffering from over-capacity issues because of slowing demand at home.

China’s Ministry of Finance has not directly responded to the US ruling but on its website this morning it has said that China will maintain its tax rebate policy for steel exports as part of its efforts to help the bloated steel sector recover.

These tax rebates are seen as favourable policies to shore up ailing steel companies in China, and to avoid massive job losses. Expect more fiery rhetoric from the US on China’s unfair trading practices soon.

A separate filing by major US steelmakers to the International Trade Commission is looking to completely ban all Chinese steel imports. The US steel industry claims that some 12,000 workers have been laid off in the past year because of unfair Chinese competition.

China claims the weak economy is more responsible for the industry’s problems and that it has taken steps to reduce its steel production.
Last year, China’s exports of cold-rolled steel flat products to the US were valued at an estimated $272.3m (£188.5m).

FTSE 100 Follows Global Markets

FTSE 100 Follows Global Markets Lower
The London market opened lower, tracking losses seen in US and Asian markets overnight. The FTSE 100 was down 22.13 points or 0.4%, at 6,145.64, with mining shares among the biggest fallers.

Fashion group Burberry slid 4.3% to 1094p after it reported a fall in full-year profits and said profits this year would be at the low end of forecasts.
Burberry said it expected “the challenging environment for the luxury sector to continue in the near term”.

On the currency markets, the pound fell 0.2% against the dollar to $1.4439, but rose 0.3% against the euro to €1.2826.