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October 10, 2018

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Unions accuse Chevron of Dutch tax avoidance

International and Dutch unions filed a complaint with a global trade body yesterday accusing Chevron Corp of funneling billions of euros through letter box companies in the Netherlands to avoid taxation.

In a rare step, the federation of Dutch trade unions, the International Transport Workers’ Federation and Public Services International lodged the complaint with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in The Hague.

“Chevron fully complies with all tax laws in the jurisdictions in which the company operates,” Chevron spokeswoman Sally Jones said.

The trade unions said tax avoidance deprived workers they represented of basic government services and pressured their wages.

“The workers and communities we represent suffer when government-provided services such as health care, education, infrastructure, water, energy, and public safety decline,” the complaint said.

“Unfortunately, multinationals’ practice of avoiding paying taxes in the countries in which their wealth is earned deepens global wealth inequality and empowers multinationals against workers and governments.”

Scores of multinationals use the Netherlands, which has a network of tax treaties with roughly 100 countries, to shift dividends, interest and royalties untaxed through Dutch shell companies to tax havens overseas.

In their 35-page complaint the unions alleged Chevron had used its Dutch subsidiaries to breach OECD disclosure guidelines in respect of their operations with Chevron’s Nigerian, Argentinian, and Venezuelan businesses. In those examples, the complaint states that Chevron specifically failed to meet requirements to pay tax in the country of extraction and to adhere to Dutch financial disclosure requirements.

The unions said Chevron’s Dutch subsidiaries, through intra-group operations whose main purpose was the avoidance of taxes in multiple jurisdictions, breached the spirit of Dutch corporation tax law.

“The American company is carrying out tax avoidance on a massive scale,” the groups said in a statement. “The Netherlands is already a tax haven which encourages companies to pay less.”

The Dutch government, which says it wants to help stop tax avoidance, has come under pressure from the OECD and the European Commission to take more measures.


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