LUXEMBOURG: Gramegna again shuns discussing taxes with EU panel.

As published on luxtimes.lu, Thursday 28 October, 2021.

Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna refused for a second time to appear before an EU parliament committee and discuss allegations that Luxembourg officials created a new route for companies and funds to enjoy special tax treatment.

Although it does not have the powers to summon ministers, the EU Parliament's subcommittee for tax matters asked Gramegna to discuss the "LuxLetters" controversy revealed in July. The investigation by international journalists claimed that letters to Luxembourg's tax administration can help create conditions similar to those of earlier tax rulings that allowed huge global corporations to escape big bills.

That practice was reformed after the so-called "LuxLeaks" scandal in 2014. "LuxLeaks" revealed that the country's officials tailor-made tax deals with around 300 companies, reinforcing Luxembourg's perception as a tax haven and prompting the country to provide greater transparency on such agreements with companies.

"I regret that [Gramegna] for the second time has declined our invitation to appear," tax committee chairman and Dutch MEP Paul Tang wrote on Twitter on Thursday. The refusals lead to greater mistrust, he said during Thursday's hearing.

The Finance Ministry explained Gramegna's absence by saying it supplied "written answers and detailed explanations regarding this issue."

Luxembourg's finance chief missed a similar meeting in August that scrutinised the so-called "OpenLux" revelations. That investigation, again by a consortium of international journalists, alleged that Luxembourg did not do enough to stop the rich, criminal and powerful from hiding their money in the country.