Letterbox company business is booming

The number of letterbox companies setting up official business in the Netherlands has gone up by 50% this year, the Volkskrant reported on Saturday. More than 20,000 multinationals and private individuals – including the Rolling Stones – are based here in order to cut their tax bills elsewhere, the paper said.

A report by the multinational research foundation (SOMO), said the growth was largely due to a willing tax office and hard lobbying by Dutch tax lawyers.
However, despite its importance to the economy – the trust industry claims to generates €9bn a year – the Netherlands was ‘helping the international business community avoid paying tax in developing countries and was attracting controversial corporations,’ SOMO said.
For example, bankrupt US energy firm Enron had dozens of Dutch-registered firms – as did Italian dairy group Parmalat. Irish pop group U2, lead by anti-poverty campaigner Bono, has been highly criticised at home for moving its tax base to the Netherlands.
The Netherlands has 134 registered trust companies, the Volkskrant says, of which Fortis Intertrust, with 2,583 letterbox companies, is the biggest.

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