The Netherlands is second only to the US state of Delaware in terms of being a tax haven for large London-listed multinationals, the Volkskrant reports on Friday.
Research into the 100 biggest companies listed on the London stock exchange shows they have 8,492 holdings and joint ventures in tax havens, of which 1,330 are in the Netherlands.
The research was carried out by charity group ActionAid. It says some developing countries are missing out on three times as much in tax revenue as they get in aid money.
‘While this research does not prove tax avoidance in itself, multinationals need to explain why they have so many subsidiaries registered in tax havens,’ the organisation said on its website.
The Volkskrant quotes the example of global advertising agency WPP which has 611 subsidiaries based on the Cayman Islands, Jersey, Bermuda, Delaware and Lichtenstein. Shell and BP have more than 100 companies based in the Caribbean ‘where not one drop of oil has been found’.
The Netherlands is popular because, for example, it does not levy tax on royalties earned outside the country, making it a popular base for international music groups like the Rolling Stones and U2.
The Netherlands is also used as an intermediary between the company and ‘real tax havens’ because of its no-questions asked policy, ActionAid says.
Delware is particularly attractive because it allows companies to keep their corporate accounts secret.