On the 20th of April 2021, the Dutch NCP accepted a complaint filed by Peruvian Indigenous groups against oil multinational Pluspetrol. It is the first time a complaint against a “letterbox” company has been declared admissible, and is one of just two cases addressing harmful corporate tax avoidance.
Four federations representing more than 100 communities from the Indigenous Quechua, Achuar, Urarina, Kichwa and Kukama filed the complaint against Pluspetrol in The Hague on March 11, 2020. They were joined by Peru EQUIDAD, Oxfam in Peru, SOMO and Oxfam Novib.
Oil extraction by Pluspetrol has led to large-scale pollution of the habitat of the indigenous communities in northern Peru. For fifteen years, Pluspetrol alledgedly contaminated nearly two thousand different locations in the Amazon. Pluspetrol’s operations in the area ended in 2015, but instead of cleaning up the pollution and compensating the local population, the oil company refuses to clean up.
While the plaintiffs seek remedy for damages done, Pluspetrol has refused the mediation offer from the Dutch NCP, which will now investigate the company’s behaviour on its own and issue a public statement on whether Pluspetrol acted in accordance with the Guidelines.
Acceptance of the complaint sets an important international precedent, according to Joseph Wilde-Ramsing (OECD Watch/SOMO): “For the first time, the Dutch NCP has declared admissible a complaint that not only addresses the behavior of multinationals with regard to the environment and human rights, but also the use of the Dutch system for avoiding taxes.”
The complaint states that Pluspetrol has used artificial tax avoidance structures, including offshore trusts and empty letterbox companies without employees to hide assets and profits and to avoid paying its fair share of taxes, in breach of OECD Guidelines provisions on disclosure and taxation.
“It is very good news that the complaint is accepted,” said Aurelio Chino, president of the Indigenous organisation FEDIQUEP. “But we see that Pluspetrol once again refuses to talk about its responsibilities, and, as the company exits, it appears to be fleeing, making clear it does not wish to take the necessary measures to clean up the chaos and contamination.”
Check out the details of the complaint in our database.