Antwerp gold company sentenced to pay 558 million euros in taxes

An Antwerp-based gold company has been sentenced to pay back 558 million euros in tax charges, financial newspaper De Tijd writes on Saturday.

The Special Tax Inspectorate (BBI) won a civil tax fraud case against gold company Industrial Refining Company, formerly known as Tony Goetz nv. The BBI showed that the company's accounts for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 were incorrect. The company at the time bought large stocks of gold in cash, without identifying and registering the sellers or determining the origin of the gold. There are no records to substantiate the gold purchases and verify the cash flows. The BBI therefore rejected the deduction of purchase costs as professional expenses.

The BBI also imposed a tax increase of 200 per cent, bringing the total claim for those three years to 558 million euros. The gold company unsuccessfully took its appeals as far as the Supreme Court.

For a company to be sentenced to more than half a billion euros in taxes in one case is unprecedented in Belgium. The BBI often claims higher tax amounts, totalling an average of 2 billion euros a year. But the amounts eventually collected after legal proceedings are often much lower.

The gold company's lawyers, Joke Vanden branden and Toon Sas, confirmed the 558 million euro conviction, but are taking it to the European Court of Human Rights for "violating the right to the undisturbed enjoyment of property".




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