Just before news broke that Norway’s biggest bank had made it possible for wealthy customers to avoid taxes, it sent them a reminder that Norway itself had a tax amnesty program. It could apply to anyone who had used one of DNB’s “postbox” companies set up in the Seychelles and neglected to inform authorities of assets or income.
Newspaper Aftenposten has reported that DNB sent out the warning after it had questioned DNB about its activities in the tax haven. Aftenposten could provide documentation leaked from a law firm in Panama that showed how DNB had purchased the companies for use by its customers.
“If anyone has avoided paying tax, it’s important that it be reported and made up,” DNB’s embattled CEO Rune Bjerke told Aftenposten. He’s been fending off embarrassing evidence in the so-called “Panama Papers,” to which Aftenposten has access, that DNB’s Luxembourg operation helped its customers avoid tax, only to then take steps to portray the bank as tax- and law-abiding.
“Norwegian authorities have encouraged Norwegians to use the amnesty program,” Bjerke said. “When we got these questions from Aftenposten before Easter, we realized it was our duty to also make sure our customers were aware of the program.”
Bjerke’s bank was under more pressure in Parliament on Wednesday, and more calls went out for his resignation.