As suspected, the Swedish Saab scandal over avoided taxes grows wider. Yesterday, it reached the failed takeover artist Victor Muller. “Muller prime suspect in Saab tangle,” headlines Swedens Svenska Dagbladet, The paper obtained court documents that say Muller is wanted for questioning.
“Victor Muller is going to be called into the Financial Crimes Unit,” Chief Prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the paper. Says Reuters:
“Prosecutors are looking into allegations that executives at Saab, which collapsed in 2011, obstructed proper tax checks over the years 2010 to 2011, a turbulent time for the company, when it was sold by General Motors to small Dutch sports car maker Spyker, and when problems which led to its collapse emerged.”
While Saab continued losing all the money given to Muller by shady Russian financiers and the European Investment Bank, and while therefore no taxes on profits were due, the Swedish government wanted its rich share of payroll taxes and social contributions. As suspected by TTAC commenter Piffpaff, the Muller case appears to focus on consulting payments made to Victor Muller’s Latin America Tug Holding NV (later renamed to LAT Management NV), based in the Netherlands Antilles, Svenska Dagbladet says.
According to the files and the Stockholm paper, some $540,000 were invoiced by Muller’s tugboat company in the tax haven. The prosecutor thinks Saab’s management should have paid taxes and social security contributions on Muller’s compensation. Invoices from entities in tax havens are a favorite tool for tax avoidance.
Prosecutor Sahlgren told the Dagbladet that Muller has not been formally charged with a crime. However, by law, Muller “is responsible for the company because he has been a director, president, and later CEO of Saab.”
The scandal could widen. According to the prosecutor, more people could come under suspicion. The matter also is likely to involve generous bonus payments made to Victor Muller when Saab was going down the drain. Unusually high payments to the boss, especially before a bankruptcy rarely fail to attract the attention of the prosecutor.