Beer giant accused of global tax dodge

The global brewer behind Grolsch and Peroni is avoiding an estimated £20m of tax in Africa and India, according to new report by poverty campaigners ActionAid.

The report relied upon published financial information, interviews and undercover research to allege the beer giant was funneling tax through its complex corporate structure, depriving developing economies of vital tax revenue.

“SABMiller conducts its tax affairs behind a veil of secrecy. The company and its subsidiaries siphon money away from African countries and into tax havens in Europe, where the tax rates are far lower,” Martin Hearson, a co-author of the report said.

SABMiller has vehemently denied the accusations. In a statement posted on its website the company said it did not engage in aggressive tax planning in any part of its operations and said the report included flawed and inaccurate assumptions.

“Compliance with tax laws underpins all of our corporate governance practices. We actively engage with revenue authorities and we are open and transparent with our affairs,” the company said in the statement.

“SABMiller companies pay a significant level of tax. In the year ended 31 March 2010, the group reported US$2,929 million in pre-tax profit and group revenue of US$26,350 million. During the same period our total tax contribution remitted to governments, including corporate tax, excise tax, VAT and employee taxes, was just under US$7,000 million. Seven times that paid to shareholders. “


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