Critics question whether the government should help companies that don’t pay tax in Canada.
The Canadian government provided more than $1 billion in loans to a mining company that used a complex offshore business structure to allegedly avoid nearly $700 million in Canadian tax.
Turquoise Hill Resources, a Canadian company headquartered in Vancouver and listed on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges, received a loan of $750 million (U.S.) in 2015 from Export Development Canada, a Crown corporation that supports Canadian businesses abroad. The loan is worth more than $1 billion Canadian, according to EDC’s disclosure database.
Between 2010 and 2016, Turquoise Hill ran the finances for its massive Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia through shell companies in Netherlands and Luxembourg. The arrangement allowed it to avoid paying $559 million (U.S.) in Canadian corporate income tax, worth $694 million Canadian at current exchange rates, according to a report put out by the Dutch NGO SOMO this week.
“There does seem to be a contradiction there,” said Karyn Keenan, director of Above Ground, an Ottawa-based NGO that advocates for corporate accountability.
“Should EDC be providing over a billion dollars of financing to a company that’s engaging in tax avoidance?” she asked. “EDC is a public institution. It’s an arm of the state. It should operate in a way that’s coherent with the policies and the stated aims of the government.”