Former Booking.com executives to be questioned over €153 million tax evasion allegations
Two former financial executives of the Dutch-founded holiday travel agency website Booking.com will soon be questioned in Italy about possible tax evasion crimes. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service will collaborate with Italy during the investigation into Olivier Bisserier and Marcela Martin. Italy already started the investigation in 2018.
The Guardia di Finanza, the Italian counterpart of the Dutch financial crimes inspectorate FIOD, claims that Booking.com engaged in tax evasion when renting holiday homes between 2013 and 2019 by not transferring 153 million euros in value added tax. Bisserier was the Chief Financial Officer at Booking from 2013 to 2019. Martin took over for Bisserier, working as CFO from 2019 to 2020.
The Italian authorities initially first sent a European investigation order, OIE, in August 2018, but it was refused by the Dutch prosecutors. A modified version with more information sent a year later eventually led to a meeting between the Italian and Dutch prosecutors last month.
In January, the Netherlands will hand over the data requested by Italy and the two former directors will be questioned. The Netherlands will direct the questioning.
The Guardia di Finanza thinks that Booking.com should have collected the taxes from the rental of homes by private individuals who often do not have a VAT number of their own. Booking states that it is the responsibility of the landlords to comply with VAT rules, and that the company only acts as an intermediary.
Reporting by ANP