Friday 14 May 2021

Tax avoidance via the Netherlands costs Greek state millions: report

MailboxesGreece is losing millions of euros in tax income a year because of letterbox companies in the Netherlands, according to Dutch multinational research institute Somo.

Greece may be under harsh EU austerity measures but its economy is being underminded by large-scale tax avoidance enabled by the Netherlands, Somo says in a new report.

For example, tax avoidance by Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold, which uses mailbox companies in the Netherlands, has led to tax losses of at least €1.7m for Greece in the past two years.

Eldorado operates a mine in northern Greece and has 12 subsidiaries registered in Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district despite carrying out no economic activities in the Netherlands.

In the report, Somo states Eldorado Gold has a loan-financing structure that shifts interest payments from Greek subsidiary Hellas Gold SA, via Dutch mailbox companies to a Barbados entity where this income remains untaxed.

Double standards

‘The European Union and the Netherlands have double standards. On the one hand they impose harsh austerity measures which have devastating social and economic impacts in Greece; on the other hand they actively facilitate tax avoidance which costs the Greek state millions of euros,’ says SOMO researcher Katrin McGauran.

Somo claims the Netherlands and Luxembourg are widely used tax conduit countries for foreign companies investing in Greece and that 80% of direct investments from the Netherlands to Greece are routed through mailbox companies.

This, it says, is ‘an under-reported issue in discussions on the causes of Greece’s budget deficit’.

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