‘You can say I’m paranoid about it, but they will kill me’
Quotw This was the week when Belizean police started the search for securities firm founder John McAfee, a suspect in the murder of his neighbour.
McAfee appears to be on the lam from the police, hiding under sand and issuing statements to the media about his “persecution”. The antivirus pioneer claimed that the police were trying to set him up to take the fall for the murder of American expat builder Gregory Faull, who had filed a complaint last week about McAfee. He protested that he was innocent:
Under no circumstances am I going to willingly talk to the police in this country. You can say I’m paranoid about it but they will kill me, there is no question. They’ve been trying to get me for months. They want to silence me. I am not well liked by the prime minister. I am just a thorn in everybody’s side.
He also alleged that his property’s guard dogs had been poisoned by “black-suited thugs” who were dropped off on the beach at his house by the Belizean coast guard. He said there was no way that Faull could have been the one to kill the four hounds:
This is not something he would ever do. I mean, he’s an angry sort of guy but he would never hurt a dog.
In response, Marco Vidal, head of Belize’s Gang Suppression Unit, which is trying to track McAfee down said:
Absolutely no truth. This guy amazes me every day. We don’t have anything personal against Mr McAfee. There is no need for us to poison dogs.
The prime minister, Dean Barrow, also denied that he was out for McAfee:
I don’t want to be unkind, but he seems extremely paranoid – I would go so far as to say bonkers. He ought to man up and respect our laws and go in and talk to the police.
In a strange twist, a police spokesperson then told CNN that McAfee wasn’t a suspect and actually they just wanted him to come in for “questioning”. Raphael Martinez said:
He needs to come in so that we can clear the air. We are law-abiding people here. We follow the laws to the letter. We believe at this point that he has absolutely no fear of being killed by anybody.
In Blighty, tech majors Amazon and Google, along with coffee chain Starbucks, faced a roasting from MPs who couldn’t understand just how the companies had paid so little corporation tax in all their years in the country.
The Public Accounts Committee went first to HMRC to find out why the tax authority wasn’t the one pursuing the firms for their explanations. But chief exec Lin Homer said there wasn’t a gosh-darned thing HMRC could do about it:
All HMRC can do is to apply the laws and what I am acknowledging is that in an international setting, multinational businesses can choose to some extent where some parts of their business are based and they can choose where some of their profits are based.
Then it was the turn of the companies, whose representatives acquitted themselves none too admirably in their mealy-mouthed attempts to deflect the MPs’ questions.
Amazon’s director of public policy Andrew Cecil was perhaps the most ridiculous in his claims that the firm had no idea what portion of its European sales took place in the UK because it only did those numbers for the whole of Europe, a claim met with understandable derision from the committee.
Follow-up questions got a number of “I don’t knows” and “I’d have to checks”, enough that committee chair Margaret Hodge lost a little of her patience:
You’ve come with nothing! We will have to order a serious person to appear before us and answer our questions.
Google VP for sales and operations in Northern and Central Europe, Matt Brittin, admitted that the Chocolate Factory set itself up in tax-favourable locations but tried to say it was all down to getting the best value for shareholders, which rather fell down when it came to Bermuda, since that tax-avoiding cash didn’t get back to the States.
Brittin’s continued protestations that Google didn’t do anything legally wrong were given short shrift as well.
We’re not accusing you of being illegal, we’re accusing you of being immoral.
And finally, World+Dog got quite the shock when Windows 8 chief Steven Sinofsky said he was leaving the company just a few weeks after the new OS launched.
Sinofsky claimed it was his own decision and tried to head the rumours off at the pass:
Some might notice a bit of chatter speculating about this decision or timing. I can assure you that none could be true as this was a personal and private choice that in no way reflects any speculation or theories one might read about me, new opportunities, the company or its leadership.
But even his replacement, Julie Larson-Green, admitted she was in a bit of shock about the whole thing. ®