By on May 30, 2013

Victor Muller - Picture courtesy

Despite Victor Muller’s assurances that he is innocent, that he has not been accused of any crime, and that Sweden’s Economic Crime Authority most likely only wants to invite him for a friendly chat, Sweden’s  Göteborgs-Posten thinks it knows who is the target of the investigation:  Victor Muller, and Saab’s board. In the end, Victor Muller was alone on board.  Says the paper:

“From what Göteborgs-Posten learned, there is a clear link between the prosecutor’s recent suspicions about crimes by SAAB Automobiles former board and how Victor Muller was paid for his work from February 2010 to the bankruptcy in December 2012.”

“When Victor Muller, a major owner of Spyker Cars which bought SAAB Automobile in February 2010, joined SAAB’s leadership as chairman of the board, there was no written contract about how and for what he would get paid. Even so, invoices started to arrive from Muller’s companies in Latin America Tug Holding on the Dutch Antilles.”

An international tax consultant tells TTAC that disputes about consultancy agreements vs. salaries are common: “If there is a dispute, they ask first for a contract. If there is none,  bad news. If there is a contract, then they look for emails in which the contract was negotiated. If the contract just appeared out of thin air, bad news.  Then they look where the money went.”

According to Göteborgs-Posten, the money did not go to the Tug company, “but to Muller’s private bank account, as the investigations of the tax authorities show.” Apparently in a letter to Muller, those tax authorities worte:

“The evidence supports the conclusion that the purpose was that SAAB should give you compensation and that you would avoid paying taxes for this.”

Until SAAB’s bankruptcy in December 2011, about $1.2 million were paid in consulting fees to Victor Muller, the paper says.

“It was only in September 2011 that Victor Muller, when he was the only person in the leadership and the crisis in SAAB was escalating, that the consulting fees were regulated in a written agreement. The payments where thereby secured. 

The Tax Authorities sees this entire arrangement with consulting fees instead of salary for the job as chairman of the board as a ploy to make Victor Muller avoid paying taxes in Sweden for his work in SAAB Automobile. In September 2012 the Tax Authorities therefore decided to demand Victor Muller pay approx. 2 million SEK ($300,000) in tax.”

The paper concludes:

“The responsibility for errors in the conduct of SAABs accounting and reporting, and that SAAB paid a consulting fee instead of salary and that a substantial tax shortfall has happened, rests with the board of SAAB.“

In the end, Victor Muller sat alone on the board. On June 23, 2011, Saab’s General Counsel Kristina Gers stepped down from the board, a week after two union representatives defected.

In the meantime, Muller said through his favorite mouthpiece Saabsunited ,  that “the contract was approved by the National Debt Office  in 2010.” According to the information given to Göteborgs-Posten, no contract existed in 2010. The Debt Office told the paper that all it had to approve whether the “compensation was reasonable,” and that how taxes are paid would be up to Saab and Muller.

(Hat tip to a friend in  Sweden for a translation better than Google Translate.)
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8 Comments on “Tax Saabotage: Muller And Saab Board (=Muller) Target Of Swedish Government, Paper Says...”

  • avatar
    Johnny Bouncewell

    Quite a jaunty scarf for a man accused of a crime.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Okay, so Muller used his position to quietly pay himself “consultancy fees” under the table and without contract, only so it appeared he was making no salary, and thus tried to get away with paying no income tax.

    I’m curious if this was his ultimate goal in taking over SAAB, or just a side benefit?

    If this was his ultimate goal, to use SAAB as a means of tax-free income and let the situation ride as long as possible, it seems pretty short-sighted. A lot of trouble to make a couple million bucks tax free.

    If this was a side enrichment plot of his, along with trying to legitimately make SAAB a viable car company again, it shows incredibly poor judgment. I mean, if he were to have successfully resurrected SAAB, or spun it to new owners, certainly his little scheme would be uncovered. As it is, his plot was uncovered in his failure (which is why I wonder if this wasn’t his personal enrichment goal all along).

    Bertel, what say you? What were Muller’s ultimate motivations in all this? Certainly, from the beginning, this was a hail mary. He had almost zero chance of success. Hmmmm.

    • 0 avatar

      I always suspected Muller just wanted to dress up SAAB so it had the appearance of a viable car company, and then sell it to the Chinese (as we all know he obsessively did try to do).

  • avatar

    So Victor Muller the “consultant” risks having to pay 2 million SEK in back taxes. I guess he can live with that. The more interesting question is if Victor Muller as chairman of the Saab board must go to prison for helping the “consultant” (himself) avoid taxes while he was at SAAB in Sweden and evidently ran the company till it went under.

    It might have helped Muller’s case if he had paid taxes in the Netherlands on his Swedish income, but the Dutch Antilles is a tax haven in the Caribbean and sending invoices from a place like that does not suggest he was eager to pay taxes in Europe.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point you make here. I find it interesting that all the news is ‘just’ about tax and that even at TTAC there is little mention of the implication of a two-faced tax evader. The Swedish are angry of course because they guaranteed a loan with which he paid himself generously.

      I think the plan is:
      -prove tax evasion
      -press criminal charges and send VM to prison
      -get money back

  • avatar

    Spyker forced to delist.

  • avatar


    Fri Aug 16, 2013 12:05pm EDT
    Zeewolde, the Netherlands, 16 August 2013 – Spyker N.V. (“Spyker”) will not return to the Official Market of NYSE Euronext; the last trading date of the Spyker shares is 13 September, 2013.

    The ordinary shares of Spyker have been allocated to the special listing segment of NYSE Euronext Amsterdam (“strafbankje”) since 13 September 2011 following Spyker’s then subsidiary Saab Automobile AB filing for administration. During the first year of the listing measure of NYSE Euronext, Spyker started a restructuring process in order to return to the Official Market. Applicable listing regulations allow two extensions. Since its restructuring process was not finalized within one year, Spyker requested extensions per September 13, 2012 and March 13, 2013. Both requests were granted by NYSE Euronext. The last extension ends on 13 September, 2013.

    Despite the restructuring measures taken Spyker has not recovered to the extent that it can return to the Official Market. Consequently, Spyker will not apply for a return to the Official Market. As a result Spyker will delist, effective per 16 September 2013. The last trading date will be 13 September 2013 close of trading, which trades will settle on 18 September 2013.

    After the delisting, Spyker will continue to facilitate electronic transfer of its shares via Euroclear Amsterdam for the near future. Shareholders should however realize that after the delisting they will no longer be able to trade the shares over the stock exchange, and that no meaningful off-exchange trade is expected to occur.

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