Demissionair Hoekstra should have been more careful when investing in a safari business. Thats what he said in the House of Representatives Question Time. The company was officially based in the Virgin Islands, which is known as tax haven. The investment came to light on Sunday by a publication by Trouw, Het Financieele Dagblad and research platform Investico.
In a comment, Hoekstra said at the time of the purchase in 2009 he did not realize where the company was based and that he should have dealt with better. Hoekstra added today that he could have known the location in 2009, but he did not notice it at the time. In 2017, when he became minister, he was aware; he also understood that it was sensitive and sold his stake at the time.
Hoekstra stressed today that he did act carefully before his office as minister. He not only disposed of his shares in the safari company at the time, but he also sold a stake in a McKinsey fund, where he was a partner. That investment served as a pension provision and the fund is registered in Guernsey.
According to Hoekstra, 30,000 McKinsey partners and employees participated and that provision was created, among other things, because employees of that company were not allowed to invest in shares of listed companies. He consulted the sales with the national lawyer at the time and reported it to formerRutte.
A large part of the opposition (PvdA, PVV, SP, GroenLinks, Party for the Animals, Volt, Bij1) is very critical of the course of events. Many wonder how credible Hoekstra can fight tax havens if he has made use of it himself. The investment in Guernsey also raises questions. “Apparently, in the top of Dutch consultancy, it is common for you to build up your pension through Guernsey,” said PvdA-MP Nijboer.
According to Hoekstra, he is still credible. He stressed that he adhered to all the rules, including when he was in the House of Representatives, and that the issue of the company played in the Virgin Islands before becoming minister.
He also pointed out that he had no profit in the investment and that he included everything in his tax return.
Time Geist Has Changed
The demissionary minister went on to say that the cabinet has been “not frugal” in addressing tax constructions: “The cabinet has done much more to it than previous cabinets. It shows how the zeitgeist has changed. I dont know if I would have hit it in 2009 either.”
Hoekstra also pointed out that the European blacklist of tax havens was not drafted until December 2017 and that such a list was not published until 2019 in the Netherlands.
According to the Minister, 84 percent of the World Banks assets invested in Southern Africa ran through tax havens in 2015.
Hoekstra promised the Chamber that he would like to talk to the Nederlandsche Bank and other experts about how to deal with this type of investment: “It is my interest as a minister that nobody has this type of discussion in a state holding or in the financial sector.”