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Opposition Lawmaker Demands Probe into Netherlands-Shell Tax Deal

By Linda A. Thompson: June 27, 2018

A Dutch opposition lawmaker is pushing the government to launch a parliamentary inquiry into Shell, calls that follow criticism of the oil giant’s past deals with the tax authority.

Jesse Klaver, the leader of the Dutch Greens, is specifically focused on a 2004 tax ruling the tax authority issued to Royal Dutch Shell Plc. A parliamentary inquiry would be lawmakers’ only shot to question Shell executives about the deal, and would be the latest development in scrutiny of the company’s tax planning.

“Given all the confidentiality there is, we only have one method left and that’s the method of the parliamentary inquiry. If it reveals that money indeed unjustly went to Shell, I think we should get it back,” Klaver said.

The country’s controversial 15 percent withholding tax on dividends is at the center of the controversy. Klaver’s call follows claims from a Dutch academic that the company avoided the tax by routing dividends through a trust in the Channel Island of Jersey.

Shell received permission from the government to use the structure. But the setup has cost the Dutch tax coffers 7.5 billion euros ($8.7 billion), according to the Amsterdam-based Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations.

Lawmakers will vote on the motion July 3. Although motions are not binding, they are seen as increasing pressure on the government to take action on an issue when passed by a large majority in the House.

A spokesman for Shell declined to comment.

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