Le Soir and De Tijd are reporting on Tuesday that of the hundred richest families in Belgium, 60% of them have created at least one company in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The publications’ figures are based upon a survey they have conducted.
In two out of three cases, the given company is simply a “go-between” with no other activity than holding parts of other companies located abroad (prime locations being the British Virgin Islands and Panama), and generally only paying low levels of tax. If we were to take the 50 richest families, eight out of ten of them opt for Luxembourg. When cumulated, shareholders’ equity in all such companies exceeds €48 billion. Moreover their assets come very close to €54 billion. This is the equivalent of the GDP of Latvia!
The former Belgian Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, who is the former Deputy Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also features in the list of Luxembourg “go-betweens”. The listing is as a result of his directorship of Tele Colombus Holdings SA, a holding company, established in Luxembourg. He confirms his “interest in the rescue operation for Tele Colombus, which was subject to a ruling by the Belgian tax authorities in 2016.”
The list also includes the leading company in construction and maintenance of maritime infrastructure, Jan de Nul, key Belgian shareholders of AB InBev, Alexandre Van Damme, whose company Cesto part owns RSC Anderlecht, and Philippe Vlerick, one of the major textiles concerns.