Branson, Virgin Group reputations at the centre of $250 million London court clash
Internal Virgin emails revealed in a $250 million London lawsuit on Monday suggest that British billionaire Richard Branson's residency in a tax haven dealt a severe blow to the reputation of Virgin Group. This damaging revelation came at a time when Virgin Atlantic, a UK-based airline, was seeking a government bailout amidst the pandemic.
The emails, which were brought to light by lawyers representing U.S. train operator Brightline, play a crucial role in the legal dispute between Virgin Group and Brightline. The lawsuit emerged after Brightline canceled a previously agreed-upon deal to utilize the Virgin brand in 2020, shortly after signing it 18 months prior.
As part of the agreement, Brightline had operated a railway line in Florida under the name Virgin Trains USA. However, Brightline justified their cancellation by pointing to the negative press coverage surrounding Branson's statement in 2020. In his statement, Branson claimed that Virgin Atlantic would require a bailout from the British government to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Brightline's legal team highlighted internal emails from Virgin Group, which referred to Branson's choice to be based in the British Virgin Islands for tax purposes as "a reputation killer." Additionally, an external public relations advisor's email expressed the need for Branson to demonstrate that he is not a ruthless billionaire evading taxes.
Source : Reuters