May 16, 2013 / 9:09 AM / 6 years ago

UK activists lose legal challenge against Goldman tax deal

A Goldman Sachs sign is seen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

LONDON (Reuters) - A British group campaigning against tax avoidance has lost a legal challenge against a 2010 settlement between Goldman Sachs and HMRC, the British tax authority.

Judge Andrew Nicol wrote in a judgment on Thursday that the controversial settlement, worth up to 20 million pounds ($30 million) to the U.S. bank, was “not a glorious episode” in the history of HMRC but that it was not unlawful.

The case concerns a deal reached orally in November 2010 between then HMRC boss Dave Hartnett and Goldman Sachs executives to resolve a long-running dispute over a now-banned tax avoidance scheme involving the payment of bonuses to UK staff via an offshore tax haven.

Activist group UK Uncut Legal Action alleged that Hartnett had wrongly agreed a “sweetheart deal” whereby Goldman paid the principal it owed but not the accrued interest.

Judge Nicol said mistakes had been made which HMRC now acknowledge, but the deal had not broken the law.

Reporting By Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison

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