|Marius Kohl is a
new entry this year
Before October, Marius Kohl was known only to his family,
friends and companies that paid tax in Luxembourg. Then he gave
an interview to the Wall Street Journal, the
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
– also in the Global Tax 50 this year –
published leaked documents about tax rulings given to companies
in that country and all hell broke loose, as far as tax
avoidance in the EU was concerned.
Between 1981 and 2013, Kohl was head of
Sociétés 6, described as the Luxembourg agency
responsible for determining how much tax is owed each year by
about 50,000, mostly foreign-owned, Luxembourg-registered
"I could say 'yes' or 'no,' " Kohl told the WSJ.
"Sometimes it's easier if you only have to ask one person."
Luxembourg tax advisers have spoken about how foreign companies
would troop into his office to get approval for their tax
arrangements, which invariably related to booking profit in
low-tax Luxembourg from business in other jurisdictions.
What has added spice to Kohl's revelations is that
Jean-Claude Juncker, the new president of the European
Commission, was Luxembourg's finance minister from 1989,
stepping down from the position in 2009, and prime minister
between 1995 and 2013. It would be easier for the Commission to
address that country's generous tax rulings regime if it were
not for this.
Despite the ructions his interview caused, Kohl has kept a
low profile since. Indeed the WSJ did not publish a
photograph of him and only described him as "a bearded
61-year-old with a ponytail". He has been a lot more
forthcoming about his role in facilitating foreign companies'
tax arrangements in Luxembourg.