NETHERLANDS – A documentary in the Netherlands has accused the €292bn civil service scheme ABP and the €135bn healthcare pension fund PFZW of profiting from the sale of a company that allegedly helps companies avoid paying tax.
The programme – which aired earlier this week on MAX, a Dutch TV channel for the elderly – focused in part on ABP and PFZW's stake in Intertrust, a company with offices in Amsterdam and the Cayman Islands.
Documentary filmmaker Cees Grimbergen claimed the pension funds made the 2010 investment indirectly through their private equity investor AlpInvest, which subsequently invested in the Dutch investment fund Waterland.
Grimbergen said Waterland sold Intertrust at a €425m profit earlier this year, with more than €250m of the proceeds going to ABP and PFZW.
The filmmaker concluded that, through the investments, Dutch civil servants and nurses essentially profited from tax avoidance.
Yet Rob Thielen, chief executive at Waterland, dismissed the tax-dodging allegations as "far fetched".
"Intertrust provides administrative services similar to those of accountancy firms KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte," he said. "We try to keep the tax burden for companies as low as possible."
Jos van Dijk, spokeswoman at ABP, agreed that the film's premise had been "over the top".
"We don't invest in companies that violate Dutch legislation, or national or international treaties," she said.
She also pointed out that even the Dutch government had held a stake in the company, after nationalising bancassurer Fortis at the outset of the financial crisis.
Diana Abrahams, spokeswoman at PFZW, underlined that Intertrust was legal entity under Dutch law and therefore did not warrant engagement or exclusion.
"For us, there was no reason not to invest in the company," she said, adding that PFZW was satisfied with the return for its participants.