Canadian mining company, Cameco Corp., sells uranium to a wholly owned trading hub, Cameco Europe Ltd., registred in low tax jurisdiction, Switzerland, which then re-sells the uranium to independent buyers. The parties had entered into a series of controlled transactions related to this activity and as a result the Swiss trading hub, Cameco Europe Ltd., was highly profitable.
Following an audit, the Canadian tax authorities issued a transfer pricing tax assessment covering years 2003, 2005, 2006, and later tax assessments for subsequent tax years, adding up to a total of approximately US 1.5 bn in taxes, interest and penalties.
The tax authorities first position was that the controlled purchase and sale agreements should be disregarded as a sham as all important functions and decisions were in fact made by Cameco Corp. in Canada. As a second and third position the tax authorities held that the Canadian transfer pricing rules applied to either recharacterise or reprice the transactions.
The Tax Court concluded that the transactions were not a sham and had been priced in accordance with the arm’s length principle.
The tax authorities have now decided to appeal the decision with the Federal Court of Appeal.
and Cameco’s settlement with the IRSCanada-vs-Cameco-Corp-Oct-2018tcc195