Investors and banks reportedly have managed for years to avoid paying tax on dividends in several European countries including Norway. The alleged swindle could have cost Norwegian taxpayers alone as much as NOK 350 million.
An investigation conducted by cooperating European media revealed on Thursday that the alleged swindle may have cost several European countries’ treasuries billions of euros, Danish kroner or Swiss francs. “We’re talking about extremely complex crime at the highest levels, and with considerable international dimensions,” a Danish prosecutor told Denmark’s national radio.
Hans Christian Holte told state broadcaster NRK on Thursday that Norway was swindled as well, but for the much lower sum of NOK 580,000 (USD 72,000). Attempts at further swindles were halted after what Holte called “good contact” with Danish authorities back in 2015. Holte said Norway’s tax authority, Skatteetaten, managed to halt swindle attempts that amounted to NOK 350 million.
The alleged swindlers, tapping into a large network, would lend shares in major companies to one another, making it look like the shares had two owners. Each side would “confirm” taxes paid by the other, even though they hadn’t been. The swindle began as early as 2001 and is believed to have collectively cost Germany, Denmark, Belgium, France and Italy a total of NOK 519.2 billion in lost tax revenue.