ABN AMRO was surprised to take note of a report published by the Dutch BankWiser (Eerlijke Bankwijzer - Fair Banking Guide) (EBW) following its investigation into tax avoidance.
ABN AMRO considers the report to be of such poor quality that it does not wish to react to its content or the conclusions drawn by EBW. The report is highly insinuating, as is the accompanying press release, which makes reference to banks being ‘possibly involved in tax avoidance.
Report results reviewed by professors in tax law
ABN AMRO has requested two professors in tax law (Prof. T. Bender and Prof. F. Pötgens) to review the results of the investigation. Their conclusions speak for themselves:
Prof. Bender: "Our review focused on whether the approach taken in the investigation was suited to determine whether Dutch bank groups are involved in international tax avoidance.
My conclusion is that the investigation had several fundamental flaws, as a result of which it could not validly and unequivocally determine whether these banks are involved in international tax avoidance."
Prof. Pötgens: "I noted that some of the terms and parameters used by Profundo were poorly substantiated or, in some cases, lacked any definition at all. As a result, the investigation did not meet the level of accuracy and care required […]."
Although the professors’ findings were submitted to EBW/Profundo well in time, EBW/Profundo apparently did not see any reason to modify its investigation, its approach or its conclusions.
ABN AMRO does not oppose the fact that banks are subject to review. On the contrary; a properly conducted review can help improve transparency and trust in the sector. Any such review, however, must be conducted with due care. Reviews conducted according to the approach taken by EBW/Profundo serve solely to generate publicity for the NGOs involved and to underline their objectives, while needlessly damaging the reputations of the banks in question.
Banks have long been advocating the need for better quality reviews. ABN AMRO also pointed this out to Profundo, but to no avail, unfortunately.
ABN AMRO does not participate in tax evasion in any manner, way or form. ABN AMRO is completely transparent to the Dutch Tax authorities and all subsidiaries of the bank are known to the Dutch tax authorities. ABN AMRO publishes its Tax Principles on its website and reports country-by-country information regarding its activities, operating income and FTEs. Starting next year, this disclosure will also report our profits and tax payments per country.