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Banks & Offshore

Dutch Banking Giants Helped Clients Go Offshore

ING and ABN Amro set up dozens of companies in island tax havens.

ING and ABN Amro set up dozens of companies in island tax havens.

The Dutch banks ING and ABN Amro registered dozens of companies for their clients in offshore refuges with lovely beaches and low tax rates such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and the Malaysian island of Labuan, an investigation by Dutch newspaper Trouw and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has found. 

Trouw found the information in leaked documents and emails from two companies Singapore-based Portcullis TrustNet and British Virgin Islands-based Commonwealth Trust Limited — that specialize in helping customers set up and manage companies in offshore centers known as havens for individuals who want to reduce their taxes.

ING and ABN Amro said they have never been party to tax evasion.

“The companies were set up for international clients and always in compliance with local and international laws,” ABN Amro said in a statement.

The companies set up by the two Dutch banks have names like Thriving Capital, Capital Plus Worldwide, Wise Bonus Group and Billion Giant Development. Records show that so-called ‘nominee’ companies helped obscure the identities of many of the people involved in the companies that ING and ABN set up through offshore services firms. These nominee companies act as stand-in directors or shareholders while the actual owners stay in the background.

The database lists ING-subsidiaries and ING-staff as nominee directors and nominee shareholders. Several companies that are registered through TrustNet  name ING (Jersey) Nominees Limited as shareholder and list ING employees as directors.  

In one example, ING (Jersey) Secretaries Limited and ING (Jersey) Nominees Limited are listed as shareholders of a company called Ocean & Mountain Limited. There is no ING company document showing that Ocean & Mountain Limited was part of the bank.

ING said that because the bank divisions that managed such companies have since been sold, it was unable to explain the reason for the use of such structures.

This story was also published in Trouw.

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