While the Netherlands has its own image as a tax haven, Dutch multinationals are masters at setting up their own companies in tax-free zones, the Volkskrant reported at the weekend.
The 26 biggest Dutch companies have at least 237 companies in tax-free places such as the Channel Islands, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, where they do no, or little, business, the Volkskrant says.
Shell has 85 subsidiaries in six tax-free zones, while ABN Amro has 54 in five. Privately-held oil trading group Vitol has 17. Most companies, including Vitol, are reluctant to give out much information about their activities in tax havens, the VK said.
ABN Amro, now fully owned by the Dutch state, is a little more forthcoming. It says the tax haven subsidiaries are connected to special investment funds and investments in ships and there is ‘no question’ of tax evasion.
Others, such as Akzo Nobel, Unilever and Philips, said they are in the process of liquidating their interests in tax havens.
Of the 26 biggest companies, only TomTom, PostNL and Wolters Kluwer have no operations in a tax-free location.
Shell told the paper it supplies all necessary information to tax offices and denies that the Cayman Islands and Bermuda are tax-free zones under OECD definitions.
This article was re-edited after its initial publication.
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