Nick Shaxson ■ Report: Switzerland’s role in Shell’s tax avoidance


ShellFrom SOMO in the Netherlands:

“There is not one drop of oil coming out of the Swiss mountains, but still Royal Dutch Shell has eight subsidiaries in Switzerland. Between 2001 and 2005 the Dutch-British oil multinational set up a range of subsidiaries in the country, although these entities are not involved in any productive activities, finds a new report released today. The Centre for Research on Multinational Companies (SOMO) and Friends of the Earth Europe report concludes that Shell uses Switzerland mainly for ‘tax planning purposes’.

The main purpose of these entities is trademark management, ?nancial services, internal insurance, and trading activities for Shell’s worldwide oil and gas operations.

Shell’s presence in Switzerland potentially allows the company to avoid paying a significant amount of taxes where its actual economic activities take place, including in developing countries.”

Download the report here.

We at TJN often like to use the term ‘tax abuse’ instead of ‘tax avoidance’ because in so many cases it’s not clear whether what the individual or corporation is doing is legal or not – because it hasn’t been challenged. We feel that the term ‘tax abuse’ adequately conveys this ambiguity, and also conveys the social harm.

As SOMO also note:

“The findings of this report support the call by the Tax Justice Network Netherlands earlier this week for Shell to be truly transparent about their tax payments to governments.”

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