It's good to be the king (or a Eurocrat)


No one likes paying taxes. Especially those big—hearted public servants in international institutions that work selflessly for the common good. The Financial Times (subscription required) describes a wonderful tax dodge availablke to Eurocrats.

Those working in Europe have since 1991 also been able to save tax—free through Amfie, a co—operative set up in tax—friendly Luxembourg. However, the Grand Duchy is becoming a bit more hostile, thanks to the efforts of the EU and OECD, which drew up a blacklist of tax havens.

It has just passed the EU savings directive, which will force EU citizens to pay tax on savings throughout the Union from July 1, 2005.

Well, not all of them, it appears. "No need to panic," trumpets the Amfie website. "Your association is working with its financial partners to provide you with suitable tax exempt products." Such dogged protection of its members, who buy a share each, explains its burgeoning appeal.

Amfie is open to staff of more than 80 organisations. Since 1991 it has grown from 200 members with £1.5m in deposits to 2,900 members with £120m in deposits.

It has also attracted some big names. The chairman of the supervisory board is Jacques Santer, the ex—European Commission president whose entire team resigned amid allegations of nepotism.

"We are not really taking any position on these tax issues," said board chairman Dimitri Argyropoulos, a retired World Bank and Unesco worker. "We just follow what the financial markets here in Luxembourg do. We comply with all the required laws."

As he pointed out, there are plenty of financial instruments not covered by the directive.

Ed Lasky   6 7 05