News / 12 November 2013

Dutch export credit agency: ample opportunity for money laundering and tax avoidance

Press Release


Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB provides ample opportunity for money laundering and tax avoidance.


A structural lack of control on the part of Dutch export credit agency Atradius Dutch State Business (DSB) gives leeway to its customers and their partners to launder money and dodge taxes. This is the main conclusion of the study ‘Cover for What?’ done by researchers of the Dutch NGO Both ENDS. Displaying this lack of control Atradius, which is working exclusively for the Dutch State, undermines policies designed by the very Dutch State to counteract money laundering and tax evasion. The study shows three transactions backed by Atradius in which multinationals choose a seat in tax havens and handle affairs from there, using non-transparent business structures. Atradius does nothing to counter these strategies. The lack of control displayed by Dutch ECA Atradius might very well apply to similar export credit agencies in other countries.


Excluse export support in case of lack of transparancy

Wiert Wiertsema, researcher of Both ENDS: "It's obviously very strange that an organisation like Atradius DSB, fueled with Dutch tax money, does nothing to prevent possible tax evasion or money laundering. Export credit insurance for unclear transactions through tax havens contributes to less tax revenue in the Netherlands, but also in the countries the Dutch exports are going to. The government should support export but should exclude any company whose owner is not public."


Final beneficiary sometimes unknown

Atradius DSB had a portfolio of 16.6 billion euros in 2012 and insured transactions of hundreds of companies active around the world in recent years. In the three cases investigated by Both ENDS, companies are doing business with a tangle of third parties including shell companies in tax havens. Sometimes it is not even clear who is the ultimate beneficiary of the transaction.  Possible money laundering and tax evasion practices are not being monitored. There is a strong suspicion that these practices do not differ from those of other export credit agencies around the world.


More monitoring

Both ENDS reminds export credit agencies of their responsibility in cases of transactions that possibly involve money laundering and/or tax avoidance and calls to end export credit insurance for transactions through tax havens. Should transactions in and through tax havens occur, they should be severely scrutinized and the companies involved should be obliged to clearly report in which countries they do business and how much tax they pay. The ultimate beneficiaries of all transactions backed by export credit agency should be made public at all times. Export credit agencies, like all financial institutions, should comply to the legal obligation to report suspicious transactions to responsible investigative financial or tax authorities.


The study Cover for What?

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