INTRO BY JOHN DONOVAN: THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT TAX DODGING, AN ACTIVITY IN WHICH SHELL HOLDS A BLACK BELT AND HAS DONE SO FOR MANY DECADES. NOTE THAT GERRIT ZALM IS ON THE ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC BOARD OF DIRECTORS. HE IS ALSO THE CHAIRMAN OF ANOTHER ALLEGED TAX DODGER, ABN AMBRO BANK N.V. HE IS UP FOR RE-APPOINTMENT TO THE RDS PLC BOARD NEXT MONTH. OBVIOUSLY A PERFECT FIT.
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.
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.
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.