How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller

This week, ActionAid has exposed how the British brewing giant SABMiller, owner of Grolsch and Peroni, is dodging its taxes around the world. We found evidence that the company is systematically shifting the profits it makes in Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, South Africa and India, into tax havens.

Chris Jordan is an economic justice campaigns officer for ActionAid

This week, ActionAid has exposed how the British brewing giant SABMiller, owner of Grolsch and Peroni, is dodging its taxes around the world. We found evidence that the company is systematically shifting the profits it makes in Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, South Africa and India, into tax havens.

Developing countries lose an estimated £20 million a year through such practices, enough to put an extra 250,000 children through school.

Uncovering this hasn’t been an easy process. We first started investigating a number of multinationals a year ago and soon found that getting basic financial information in many countries was extremely difficult.

This wasn’t just a problem in developing countries, but the UK too, where many companies fail to disclose their subsidiaries, as they’re legally required.

It soon became clear that SABMiller was making large payments to tax havens from every developing country we could get accounts for. So with former tax inspector (and the man who exposed the Vodafone scandal) Richard Brooks, we set about delving deeper.

We discovered that SABMiller is running increasing amounts of its business though tax havens. They’re making payments of over £100 million each year to Switzerland, the Netherland and Mauritius.

Tax havens not only offer low taxes, their secrecy laws also obscure the business that goes on there. ActionAid’s research for the first time lifts the veil of secrecy that allows SABMiller (and indeed many other multinationals) to siphon taxable profits out of developing countries, all within the letter of the law, but hidden from public scrutiny.

We’re calling on SABMiller to stop using tax havens to shift profits out of developing countries, and to live up to its claims to be ‘sustainable and transparent’, by publishing a basic set of accounts in every country it operates in.

With more protests against tax dodging companies planned this weekend, it is clear this is becoming a real reputational risk for multinational companies. We want to turn SABMiller into a market leader for tax justice.

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23 Responses to “How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller”

  1. Martin Hearson

    RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db writes @ActionAid's @ChrisJords

  2. ActionAid Liz

    RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db writes @ActionAid's Chris Jordan

  3. Lee Hyde

    RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db writes @ActionAid's Chris Jordan

  4. Chris Jordan

    RT @leftfootfwd How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db writes Chris Jordan <<<That's me!

  5. Marcus Hickman

    RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db writes @ActionAid's Chris Jordan

  6. Walton Pantland

    RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db writes @ActionAid's Chris Jordan

  7. Accountkeeper®

    How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller – Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/gAAqtb

  8. False Economy

    RT @leftfootfwd How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db by @chrisjords

  9. Other TaxPayers Alli

    RT @leftfootfwd How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db by @chrisjords

  10. Haldane Society

    RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db writes @ActionAid's Chris Jordan

  11. Mr. Sensible

    I think these kind of actions are nothing short of a disgrace; multinationals avoiding paying their fare share and the world’s poor suffering as a result.

  12. Spir.Sotiropoulou

    RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller http://bit.ly/ikmPba

  13. ActionAid Australia

    RT @spsot: RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller http://bit.ly/ikmPba

  14. Elise Montano

    RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db writes @ActionAid's Chris Jordan

  15. Someone

    So, which part of ‘SAB’ in SABMiller stands for British Brewing?

    The website claims to focus on evidence-based blogging. Well, evidence points to the fact that the company isn’t exactly a British company.

  16. Southcot Services

    RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db writes @ActionAid's Chris Jordan

  17. Chris Jordan

    @Someone – SABMiller has been a UK company for the last 10 years. Its HQ is just off Park Lane in London, from where it declares profits of over £2bn a year. Here’s the link – http://www.sabmiller.com/index.asp?pageid=180

  18. Shamik Das

    There was an earlier comment purporting to be from SABMiller, which has now been taken down, as has Will’s response. The real SABMiller plc. will respond to this article in the comments section in due course.

  19. SABMiller plc

    SABMiller completely rejects the findings in ActionAid’s report. For a full response, please see here: http://tinyurl.com/338z6hs

  20. Chris Jordan

    @SABMiller – Thanks for engaging in the debate here.

    The post by Andy Wales you link to says ActionAid’s report “makes a number of allegations, all of which we reject very strongly”. However, the allegations in our report come straight out of SABMiller’s accounts, which show that tens of millions of pounds flow from your African and Indian companies to European tax havens each year.

    Surely it can’t be right that SABMiller’s Accra Brewery in Ghana pay less income tax than Marta, who runs a beer stall in the market just next door? http://bit.ly/eqqg3R

    Your CEO Graham Mackay has said that “By far the greatest contribution business can make to development is through the very act of running its business – paying suppliers, paying wages, paying taxes.”

    We agree – so will your company stop using tax havens to siphon profits out of developing countries, and establish an approach to tax planning hat is consistent with your corporate social responsibility policies?

  21. Jenny Ricks

    RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db writes @ActionAid's Chris Jordan

  22. Patricia M Lima

    RT @jenny_ricks: RT @leftfootfwd: How ActionAid exposed tax dodging by brewing giant SABMiller: http://bit.ly/ev48Db writes

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