Danny McCance 27 Feb 2019 01:03pm

Accenture paid £150m to settle Lux Leaks tax dispute

The global consulting and professional services firm paid around $200m (£150m) to Swiss authorities to settle a tax dispute related to a 2010 asset transfer

The tax claims made against Accenture were prompted by the Lux Leaks scandal, according to those behind the investigation – the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

In its quarterly report from March 2017, the company highlighted that it had been informed by the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) that it was under investigation.

This was in regards to Accenture’s tax treatment of an intercompany transfer of intellectual property in August 2010, on which the FTA asserted it had underpaid income and was therefore consequently withholding taxes.

“While we strongly disagree with the assertions made and will vigorously defend our position, we have been cooperating with the Swiss tax authorities,” Accenture stated in its report at the time.

It added that if the authorities prevailed in their investigation “taxes could be due, plus interest and possible penalties, which could be material”.

A spokesperson for Accenture today stated that the company's public records reflected "that on December 8th, 2016, the [FTA] notified Accenture of an inquiry related to the tax treatment of an August 2010 intercompany transfer of certain intellectual property.

"In June 2017, Accenture resolved this matter with the Swiss tax authorities.

"In connection with that resolution, Accenture agreed to a final assessment of prior year taxes, which were paid in June 2017," they added.

The Lux Leaks scandal erupted in 2014 with the publication of nearly 28,000 documents revealing that more than 1,000 businesses had tax avoidance schemes approved by the Luxembourg government, many with paperwork prepared by PwC.

In May last year, whistleblower and former PwC employee Antione Deltour was acquitted in the Court of Appeal in Luxembourg – he had previously been found guilty of leaking classified documents, triggering the scandal.

The FTA said it could not comment due to tax secrecy laws.