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Read this: My wife’s glad I turned down a knighthood! You cannot get much closer to Buckingham Palace than the glass and steel headquarters of oil giant Vitol. But even though its office overlooks Her Majesty’s main residence, boss Ian Taylor will not be visiting any time soon. Taylor had expected to be invited over the road to the Palace to receive a knighthood.
13million in 2007 after admitting illicit payments to the Iraqi state oil company, and in 2012 had traded oil with Iran after EU sanctions had been put in place. Taylor, 60, pre-empted an embarrassing row and withdrew his name from consideration for an honour. For weeks he was angry, upset at being put through the wringer. He’d also wanted to explain how he was committed to Britain through, among other things, the rescue of the iconic Harris Tweed weaving industry. Posh party food, 30 day-aged roasting joints and 13. Was the Bernard Matthews pension starved of cash?
When we meet he declares the lost knighthood as ‘not important’. There was a lot of nonsense being written,’ he says. Bluntly my wife Tina hates publicity and the honour was becoming a major distraction,’ adds the businessman. But surely she was disappointed in not becoming Lady Taylor?
Taylor replies: ‘To be honest she wants to lead a normal life where she can walk around and not have anybody approach her. She’s got lots of things she likes to do. Some resentment still lingers though, particularly about how he was picked on during the referendum. We didn’t break any Iranian sanctions,’ he insists. We had a subsidiary in the Middle East which brought a cargo of fuel oil which originated from Iran. Once we realised the mistake, we didn’t buy any more. Vitol has been dubbed the biggest company you’ve never heard of.
It is the type of sales figures that big corporations such as Volkswagen and Tesco can only dream of. 6 per cent of global supply. Ian Taylor, 56, chief executive, Vitol. He has porridge for breakfast then travels to work on Southern Rail which he brands ‘a disgrace’. He’ll arrive at the office at 7. His day is a combination of internal and external meetings and spends a lot of time meeting people. He’s reading Greenspan by Sebastian Mallaby and is fond of political biographies.