UK India Business Council has "no opinion" on Radia scandal

Earlier this year we posted an expose on the outright dodgy practices of on-shoring in the UK as well as the abuses and tax dodging that companies exploiting an Intra Company Transfer Visa loophole can get away with. 

Last week TechEye had the opportunity to talk to a spokesperson from the UK Indian Business Council at a UK Trade and Investment conference, so we took it. Could it be that every level involved in the UK is fully aware of lobbying from the Indian services industry – mega corporations like Wipro and Tata Group? It’d be hard not to.

As one IT contractor tells TechEye, it “won’t be long before Ratan Tata is knighted”. Tata is embroiled in the ongoing Radia tapes spectrum scandal over in India, which suggests telcos lobbied government officials for a slice of 2g spectrum pie. It’s a real mess, there are more leaked tapes to come. Our Virudh Sen in India writes it up here

How can we trust gigantic services companies with fair-handed deals in the United Kingdom when there’s a storm of mistrust and underhanded deals being exposed in India? What is the opinion of the Radia leaks of the UK India Business Council – which works closely with Tata and friends? Ratan Tata has been to the supreme court attempting to put a gagging order on the conversations – we wonder why.

The chap we asked fell silent and redirected the question to Caroline Erskine, Business Services Manager. The UK Indian Business Council “has no opinion” on the tapes. Er…

And just why was Ratan Tata granted so many audiences with David Cameron? As the Coalition went through, he was one of the very first in business to have a chat with Cameron. The first was in June, then again in July. In October he was included in Cameron’s business adviser’s group. 
In fact, as a contractor tells us, “Tata has a huge amount of access to the senior government people to lobby for his conglomerate’s interests.”

The UKIBC says, simply put, that the reason is because he’s a major investor in the UK. Never mind the continued Intra Company Transfer Visa problems which threaten to continue to pull cash straight from British coffers.

Indian workers brought on shore are not exactly getting an easy ride, either. We’ve heard of workers being seriously underpaid and encouraged to eat out for every meal, claiming back with receipts – this is part of their “salary”.

We have emailed a long list of questions to Erskine but do not expect a response to any. She  offered TechEye an opportunity to “learn more about IT servicing” if we wanted any sort of official line.

ICT Visas were left well alone in the immigration cap. The Economist says this is a rare good thing from the cap, but then it serves Big Business.

In the meantime, it seems at least one Member of Parliament thinks ICT Visas are a cause for concern. The Right Honourable John Redwood MP has put questions to Theresa May. TechEye eagerly awaits a response.