Most Dutch banks are ‘vague’ about tax avoidance: fair banking report
Seven Dutch financial institutions may be involved in evading taxes and are ‘extremely vague’ about what they do to ensure this does not happen, the Dutch Fair Bank Guide said on Wednesday.
ABN Amro, Aegon, Delta Lloyd, ING, NIBC, Rabobank and Van Lanschot emerge as potential tax avoiders in research carried out for the fair banking monitor Eerlijke Bankwijzer, which was set up by a number of big Dutch charities and the FNV trade union.
‘While all Dutch banks insist they are not involved in international tax evasion, this report shows their international investments and services raise many questions, which are not all fully answered,’ the report states.
There is, for example, a ‘real risk’ that ABN Amro and Van Lanschot are enabling tax evasion through their services in Jersey, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
The report also raises ‘major questions’ about the role of ING, Aegon and Delta Lloyd in Luxembourg and the Caymann Islands.
Rabobank, the report points out, has more than 50 subsidiaries and joint ventures in the US state of Delaware, known for its generous taxation provisions.
In total, eight Dutch financial institutions have 166 subsidiaries based in 13 different tax havens.
Officially this does not break tax law but it does undermine the rules in one territory in favour of another, the report states.
The report says researchers have found no evidence that ASN Bank, SNS Bank and Triodos Bank are avoiding tax or helping others to do so.
The report concludes by asking all Dutch banks to be more transparent about their activities in tax havens.
Companies should pay tax in the countries where they are economically active and that tax should be proportional, the report states.
‘Tax evasion means developing countries miss out on billions of euros of income, money which they need for healthcare, education and their economies,’ project leader Peter Ras said in a statement.
The Netherlands is often criticised for facilitating tax avoidance through a variety of legal constructions.
This, said Ras, is part of the competition to attract foreign firms.
‘In the end everyone loses,’ he said. ‘The Netherlands should take a stand and make tough international agreements.’