Secrecy for Sale

Published — December 10, 2014

Five transactions and five tax exemptions for Koch in Luxembourg

Koch Industries keep a small office in Luxembourg. Bastian Obermayer


In September, 2008, Koch Industries’ subsidiary, Invista B.V. – the maker of Lycra-brand fiber and Stainmaster-brand carpet – embarked on a complex 26-step restructuring of its operations in Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where the company is incorporated.

A document prepared by global tax advisory firm Ernst & Young and approved by the Luxembourg government details the restructuring and the tax consequences in Luxembourg of each transaction.

The documents are in the original French and were translated for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Here are five examples of transactions included in the restructuring that the Luxembourg government agreed would be exempt from tax.

1) Invista B.V. transfers $300 million to another Koch subsidiary called Arteva Global Holdings B.V. on Sept. 19, 2008, and ten days later Arteva transfers $175 million back. The transaction is considered a “hidden distribution” and is deemed exempt from income tax and municipal business tax by Luxembourg officials.

2) Invista then transfers $175 million to a third Koch subsidiary called KoSa Lux Finance B.V. on Sept. 29, 2008. This step is called an informal contribution that will not generate any taxable revenue. For clarity, the document states that hidden distributions and informal contributions “will give rise to no written accounting” for Koch’s Luxembourg company.

3) An Invista subsidiary in Luxembourg transfers a $177 million credit to a related company in the U.K. Luxembourg sees the distribution as a dividend and therefore exempt from income and municipal business tax, as well as withholding tax.

4) A Koch company in Spain, Respa SGPS, is liquidated as part of the restructuring and its assets are incorporated into a Luxembourg company. All revenue from the liquidation realized by the Luxembourg company is exempt from tax as far as that country’s authorities are concerned.

5) Invista Technologies transfers its intellectual property, which may include patents and trademarks, from a Swiss branch to its headquarters in Luxembourg, and then, on the same day, moves them to another subsidiary in Mexico. Luxembourg officials determine that any capital gains on that property is attributable to the Swiss branch and exempt from tax in Luxembourg.

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