The allegations involve Finnfund, a majority government-owned company that is led by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Rather than giving aid directly to developing countries, an organization such as Finnfund helps to boost the economy of these countries by investing in private projects and ventures. In this case, one of the companies that Finnfund is associated with, Dasos Capital Oy, is involved in potentially illegal tax planning through a private equity fund based in Luxembourg.
Dasos Capital is an independent Finnish company that acts as an adviser to clients that are interested in international timberland investments. One of these clients, Dasos Timberland Fund I, is a private equity fund based in Luxembourg. The new report claims that Finnfund has used Finnish development aid to invest in Dasos Timberland Fund I, which is in turn part of a tax evasion scheme that runs through Finland, Luxembourg and a Malaysian plantation company.
According to Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director of Finnwatch, the scheme takes advantage of “advance tax agreements from the Luxembourg government”. She goes on to say that “the European Commission is currently investigating Luxembourg and these ATA agreements because they are illegal”.
Finnwatch was able to find out about this complex tax scheme by examining Dasos Capital’s financial statements, as well as secret documents that were leaked to Luxleaks. Sonja Vartiala claimed in Tuesday’s press release that these records proved that Dasos Capital has avoided paying taxes in both Finland and Malaysia.
When asked about how situations like this can be prevented in future, Sonja Vartiala explained: “As Finnfund is using development aid money, the government should make sure that policies are put in place to prevent aggressive tax dodging in Finnfund’s investments. The case related to Finnfund is about the ownership policy of the Finnish government, so they need to make sure that Finnfund is more transparent and there are proper policies against tax evasion”.