Category: Commodity Transactions

Commodity transactions are transactions involving mining and extraction commodities (oil, gas and minerals) and agricultural commodities (wheat, coffee, cocoa, fruit, sugar, meat etc.). Transfer pricing issues related to commodity transactions are often related to marketing and sales hubs in low tax jurisdictions, eg. use of the Singapore-sling scheme. See also about “the sixth method”.

Australia vs Glencore, May 2021, High Court, Case No [2021] HCATrans 098

Australia vs Glencore, May 2021, High Court, Case No [2021] HCATrans 098

Glencore Australia (CMPL) sold copper concentrate produced in Australia to its Swiss parent, Glencore International AG (GIAG). The tax authorities found, that the price paid by Glencore International AG to Glencore Australia for the copper concentrate in the relevant years according to a price sharing agreement was less than the price that might reasonably be expected to have been paid in an arm’s length dealing between independent parties. The tax assessment was brought to court by Glencore. The Federal Court of Australia found in favor of Glencore. The ruling of the Federal Court was appealed by the Australian tax authorities. On 6 November 2020, a Full Federal Court in a 3-0 ruling dismissed the appeal of the tax authorities. The tax authorities then submitted a application for special leave to the High Court. This application was dismissed by the Court in a judgement issued 20 ... Continue to full case
Canada vs Cameco Corp., February 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 39368.

Canada vs Cameco Corp., February 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 39368.

Cameco, together with its subsidiaries, is a large uranium producer and supplier of the services that convert one form of uranium into another form. Cameco had uranium mines in Saskatchewan and uranium refining and processing (conversion) facilities in Ontario. Cameco also had subsidiaries in the United States that owned uranium mines in the United States. The Canadian Revenue Agency found that transactions between Cameco Corp and the Swiss subsidiary constituted a sham arrangement resulting in improper profit shifting. Hence, a tax assessment was issued for FY 2003, 2005, and 2006. Cameco disagreed with the Agency and brought the case to the Canadian Tax Court. In 2018 the Tax Court ruled in favor of Cameco and dismissed the assessment. This decision was appealed by the tax authorities to the Federal Court of Appeal. The Federal Court of Appeal in 2020 dismissed the appeal and also ruled ... Continue to full case
Ukrain vs PJSC "Azot", January 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 826/17841/17

Ukrain vs PJSC “Azot”, January 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 826/17841/17

Azot is a producer of mineral fertilizers and one of the largest industrial groups in Ukraine. Following an audit the tax authorities concluded that Azot’s export of mineral fertilizers to a related party in Switzerland, NF Trading AG, had been priced significantly below the arm’s length price, and moreover that Azot’s import of natural gas from Russia via a related party in Cyprus, Ostchem Holding Limited, had been priced significantly above the arm’s length price. On that basis, an assessment of additional corporate income tax in the amount of 43 million UAH and a decrease in the negative value by 195 million UAH was issued. In a decision from 2019 the Administrative Court ruled in favor of the tax authorities. This decision was then appealed by Azot to the Supreme Administrative Court. The Supreme Administrative Court dismissed the appeal and decided in favor of the ... Continue to full case
Australia vs Glencore, November 2020, Full Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCAFC 187

Australia vs Glencore, November 2020, Full Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCAFC 187

Glencore Australia (CMPL) sold copper concentrate produced in Australia to its Swiss parent, Glencore International AG (GIAG). The tax administration found, that the price paid by Glencore International AG to Glencore Australia for the copper concentrate in the relevant years according to a price sharing agreement was less than the price that might reasonably be expected to have been paid in an arm’s length dealing between independent parties. ‘The amended assessments included in the taxpayer’s assessable income additional amounts of $49,156,382 (2007), $83,228,784 (2008) and $108,675,756 (2009) referable to the consideration which the Commissioner considered would constitute an arm’s length payment for the copper concentrate sold to Glencore International AG in each of the relevant years. The Federal Court of Australia found in favor of Glencore. “Accordingly I find that the taxpayer has established that the prices that CMPL was paid by GIAG for the ... Continue to full case
Mexico vs Majestic Silver Corp, September 2020, Federal Administrative Court, Not published

Mexico vs Majestic Silver Corp, September 2020, Federal Administrative Court, Not published

On 23 September 2020, the Federal Administrative Court in Mexico issued a not yet published decision in a dispute between the Mexican tax authorities (SAT) and Canadian mining group First Majestic Silver Corp’s Mexican subsidiary, Primero Empresa Minera. The court case was filed back in 2015 by the tax authorities, to cancel an Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) issued to Primero Empresa Minera back in 2012. According to the APA, a methodology had been determined allowing the Mexican mining company to sell silver at 4.04 dollars per ounce to a group company based in Barbados (Silver Trading Barbados Ltd) via Luxembourg, when the average market price of silver was above 30 dollars. The APA was applied by Primero Empresa Minera for FY 2010 – 2014. The Federal Court decided in favor of the tax authorities that the APA was invalid and therefore nullified. After receiving the ... Continue to full case
Canada vs Cameco Corp., June 2020, Federal Court of Appeal, Case No 2020 FCA 112.

Canada vs Cameco Corp., June 2020, Federal Court of Appeal, Case No 2020 FCA 112.

Cameco, together with its subsidiaries, is a large uranium producer and supplier of the services that convert one form of uranium into another form. Cameco had uranium mines in Saskatchewan and uranium refining and processing (conversion) facilities in Ontario. Cameco also had subsidiaries in the United States that owned uranium mines in the United States. In 1993, the United States and Russian governments executed an agreement that provided the means by which Russia could sell uranium formerly used in its nuclear arsenal. The net result of this agreement was that a certain quantity of uranium would be offered for sale in the market. Cameco initially attempted to secure this source of uranium on its own but later took the lead in negotiating an agreement for the purchase of this uranium by a consortium of companies. When the final agreement was signed in 1999, Cameco designated ... Continue to full case
Zambia vs Mopani Copper Mines Plc., May 2020, Supreme Court of Zambia, Case No 2017/24

Zambia vs Mopani Copper Mines Plc., May 2020, Supreme Court of Zambia, Case No 2017/24

Following an audit of Mopani Copper Mines Plc. the Zambian Revenue Authority (ZRA) found that the price of copper sold to related party Glencore International AG had been significantly lower than the price of copper sold to third parties. A tax assessment was issued where the ZRA concluded that the internal pricing had not been determined in accordance with the arm’s length principle, and further that one of the main purposes for the mis-pricing had been to reduce tax liabilities. Mopani Copper Mines Plc. first appealed the decision to Zambia’s Tax Appeal Tribunal, and after a decision was handed down by the Tribunal in favor of the ZRA, a new appeal was filed with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court dismissed Mopani’s appeal and ruled in favor of the ZRA. App-024-2017-Mopani-Copper-Mines-Plc-Vs-Zambia-Revenue-Authority-20th-May-2020-Mambilima-Cj-Malila-And-Mutuna-JJS ... Continue to full case
Australia vs BHP Biliton Limited, March 2020, HIGH COURT OF AUSTRALIA, Case No [2020] HCA 5

Australia vs BHP Biliton Limited, March 2020, HIGH COURT OF AUSTRALIA, Case No [2020] HCA 5

BHP Billiton Ltd, an Australian resident taxpayer, is part of a dual-listed company arrangement (“the DLC Arrangement”) with BHP Billiton Plc (“Plc”). BHP Billiton Marketing AG is a Swiss trading hub in the group which, during the relevant years, was a controlled foreign company (CFC) of BHP Billiton Ltd because BHP Billiton Ltd indirectly held 58 per cent of the shares in the Swiss trading hub. BHP Billiton Plc indirectly held the remaning 42 per cent. The Swiss trading hub purchased commodities from both BHP Billiton Ltd’s Australian subsidiaries and BHP Billiton Plc’s Australian entities and derived income from sale of these commodities into the export market. There was no dispute that BHP Billiton Marketing AG’s income from the sale of commodities purchased from BHP Billiton Ltd’s Australian subsidiaries was “tainted sales income” to be included in the assessable income of BHP Billiton Ltd under ... Continue to full case
Russia vs PJSC Uralkali, November 2019, Supreme Court Review Panel, Case No. А40-29025/2017

Russia vs PJSC Uralkali, November 2019, Supreme Court Review Panel, Case No. А40-29025/2017

PJSC Uralkali, produced and sold fertilizers (“potassium chloride”) through a related Swiss trader. Uralkali had informed the authorities about the controlled transaction and submitted the required TP documentation. To substantiate the pricing of the transaction they had applied the transactional net margin method (TNMM) with the Swiss trader as the tested party. The Russian tax authorities disapproved of the choice of method and the way the method had been applied. They conducted an analysis, using the CUP method, and determined the the prices used in the controlled transaction deviated from price quotations of an independent pricing agency (Argus). Hence a tax assessment was issued. PJSC Uralkali disapproved of the assessment and brought the case to court. The court of first instance supported Uralkali’s position, and argued that the tax authority should have applied the same TP method as the Taxpayer. Failure of the tax authority ... Continue to full case
Australia vs Glencore, September 2019, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCA 1432

Australia vs Glencore, September 2019, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCA 1432

Glencore Australia (CMPL) sold copper concentrate produced in Australia to its Swiss parent, Glencore International AG (GIAG). The tax administration found, that the price paid by Glencore International AG to Glencore Australia for the copper concentrate in the relevant years according to a price sharing agreement was less than the price that might reasonably be expected to have been paid in an arm’s length dealing between independent parties. ‘The amended assessments included in the taxpayer’s assessable income additional amounts of $49,156,382 (2007), $83,228,784 (2008) and $108,675,756 (2009) referrable to the consideration which the Commissioner considered would constitute an arm’s length payment for the copper concentrate sold to Glencore International AG in each of the relevant years. The Federal Court of Australia found in favor of Glencore. “Accordingly I find that the taxpayer has established that the prices that CMPL was paid by GIAG for the ... Continue to full case
Russia vs PJSC Uralkali, April 2019, Court of Appeal, Case No. А40-29025/2017

Russia vs PJSC Uralkali, April 2019, Court of Appeal, Case No. А40-29025/2017

PJSC Uralkali, produced and sold fertilizers (“potassium chloride”) through a related Swiss trader. Uralkali had informed the authorities about the controlled transaction and submitted the required TP documentation. To substantiate the pricing of the transaction they had applied the transactional net margin method (TNMM) with the Swiss trader as the tested party. The Russian tax authorities disapproved of the choice of method and the way the method had been applied. They conducted an analysis, using the CUP method, and determined the the prices used in the controlled transaction deviated from price quotations of an independent pricing agency (Argus). Hence a tax assessment was issued. PJSC Uralkali disapproved of the assessment and brought the case to court. The court of first instance supported Uralkali’s position, and argued that the tax authority should have applied the same TP method as the Taxpayer. Failure of the tax authority ... Continue to full case
Russia vs RIF Trading House, April 2019, Moscow City Court, Case No. No. A40-241020/18

Russia vs RIF Trading House, April 2019, Moscow City Court, Case No. No. A40-241020/18

In 2014, RIF Trading House sourced and bought agricultural products in Russia – wheat, barley, corn and peas. These products were then exported to a trader in the UAE, which turned out to be related to RIF Trading House. However, RIF Trading House had not provide information on the relationship, nor the required transfer pricing documentation on the controlled transactions. Following an audit, the Russian Federal Tax Service came to the conclusion that the export prices had been lowered in the supply of products to the trader in UAE. The Russian Federal Tax Service independently conducted a transfer pricing analysis – functional analysis, analyzed the market, commodity exchange prices (Platts, ICAR) etc., and then issued a tax assessment where combinations of pricing methods and adjustments had been applied to determine the pricing of the controlled transactions and thus the income of RIF Trading House. Disagreeing ... Continue to full case
Ukrain vs PJSC "Azot", March 2019, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case No 826/17841/17

Ukrain vs PJSC “Azot”, March 2019, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case No 826/17841/17

Azot is a producer of mineral fertilizers and one of the largest industrial groups in Ukraine. Following an audit the tax authorities concluded that Azot’s export of mineral fertilizers to a related party in Switzerland, NF Trading AG, had been priced significantly below the arm’s length price, and moreover that Azot’s import of natural gas from Russia via a related party in Cyprus, Ostchem Holding Limited, had been priced significantly above the arm’s length price. On that basis, an assessment of additional corporate income tax in the amount of 43 million UAH and a decrease in the negative value by 195 million UAH was issued. The Court ruled in favor of the tax authorities. Click here for translation UK v Az 2019 ... Continue to full case
Glencore in $680 million Transfer Pricing Dispute with HMRC

Glencore in $680 million Transfer Pricing Dispute with HMRC

In a publication of preliminary results for 2018 mining giant Glencore reports a major tax assessment issued by HMRC in December 2018. “UK Tax Audit In December 2018, HMRC issued formal transfer pricing, permanent establishment and diverted profits tax assessments for the 2008 – 2017 tax years, amounting to $680 million. The Group intends to appeal and vigorously contest these assessments, following, over the years, various legal opinions received and detailed analysis conducted, supporting its positions and policies applied, and therefore the Group has not provided for the amount assessed. Management does not anticipate a significant risk of material changes in estimates in this matter in the next financial year.“ ... Continue to full case
Argentina vs Malteria Pampa S.A., February 2019, Tax Court, Case No 35.098-A

Argentina vs Malteria Pampa S.A., February 2019, Tax Court, Case No 35.098-A

Malteria Pampa S.A in Argentina exported malt to a related intermediary in Uruguay that in turn sold on the goods to the brewery in Brazil at a higher price. The tax authorities applied the Sixth method and issued an assessment where the export price was determined based on the latter price used in the transaction with the brewery in Brazil and a substantial fine was also issued to the Malteria Pampa S.A. for non compliance. Decision of the Tax Court “That the factual and legal points considered by the customs verification – corroborated in this pronouncement – complied with the application parameters of the TP rules invoked in the Technical Report, forming a solid conviction that the transactional prices of the sale declared in the field “Merchandise Value” of the PE 07-003-EC01-004994-P and PE N° 07-003- EC01-004995-Z of Maltería Pampa S. A. are manifestly inaccurate, constituting ... Continue to full case
Australia vs BHP Billiton, January 2019, Federal Court of Australia, Case No [2019] FCAFC 4

Australia vs BHP Billiton, January 2019, Federal Court of Australia, Case No [2019] FCAFC 4

Mining group BHP Billiton had not in it’s Australian CfC income included income from associated British group companies from sales of Australian goods through Singapore. The tax authorities held that the British companies in BHP’s dual-listed company structure fell within a definition of “associate”, and part of the income should therfore be taxed in Australia under local CfC legislation. In December 2017 BHP won the case in an administrative court but this decision was appealed to the Federal Court by the authorities. The Federal Court found in favor of the tax authority. The court found that both BHP’s Australian and British arms are associates, and therefore subject to tax in Australia under Australien CfC rules. BHP has now asked the High Court for leave to appeal. Australia v BHP jan 2019 FC AFC 4 ... Continue to full case
Russia vs LLC "Bulatovskiy Basalt", November 2018, Court of Appeal, Case No. A05-5548/2018

Russia vs LLC “Bulatovskiy Basalt”, November 2018, Court of Appeal, Case No. A05-5548/2018

Bulatovskiy Basalt LLC extracted and sold basalt rubble. The rubble was sold to three related intermediaries, whom in turn, resold the rubble to the final buyers. The resale price was on average double the transfer price. The tax authorities considered that the sole purpose of incorporating intermediaries into the sales structure was to obtain an unreasonable tax benefit in the form of underestimation of the profits from the sale of rubble and the tax base. According to the tax authorities, Bulatovskiy Basalt LLC could instead have enter into contracts with the final buyers directly. The tax authorities issued an assessment of income based on the resale of the rubble to the final Consumers. Bulatovskiy Basalt LLC brought the case to Court. The courts of the first and second instance ruled in favor of Bulatovskiy Basalt LLC. The courts took into account the existence of reasonable ... Continue to full case
Canada vs Cameco Corp., October 2018, Tax Court of Canada, Case No 2018 TCC 195

Canada vs Cameco Corp., October 2018, Tax Court of Canada, Case No 2018 TCC 195

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 ... Continue to full case
Hungary vs "Seeds Kft", September 2018, Supreme Administrative Court, Curia No. Kfv. VI. 35.585/2017

Hungary vs “Seeds Kft”, September 2018, Supreme Administrative Court, Curia No. Kfv. VI. 35.585/2017

The Hungarian tax office had carried out an an audit of “Seeds Kft” – a group company engaged in the trade in cereals and oilseeds – in relation to accounting for commodity futures. In the assessment decision, the tax office emphasized that the economic substance of the given transaction and the purpose to be achieved by the transaction are relevant. Clearing transactions are not settled by the delivery of the underlying commodities of the transaction and the payment of the forward price, but by financial settlement of the difference between the market price of the commodity and the forward price. With regard to the transfer pricing documentation, the tax office agreed with the pricing method chosen by Seeds Kft but found the application thereof arbitrary and therefore not resulting in establishment of a market price. The Court of First Instance found the tax office’s claim ... Continue to full case
Russia vs Togliattiazot, September 2018, Russian Arbitration Court, Case No. No. А55-1621 / 2018

Russia vs Togliattiazot, September 2018, Russian Arbitration Court, Case No. No. А55-1621 / 2018

A Russian company, Togliattiazot, supplied ammonia to the external market through a Swiss trading hub, Nitrochem Distribution AG. The tax authority found that the selling price of the ammonia to Nitrochem Distribution AG had not been determined by Togliattiazot in accordance with the arm’s length principle but had been to low. Hence, a transfer pricing assessment was issued where the CUP method was applied. At first, the company argued that Togliattiazot and Nitrochem Distribution AG were not even affiliates. Later, the company argued that transfer prices had been determined in accordance with the TNM-method. The court ruled in favor of the Russian tax authority. Based on information gathered by the tax authorities – SPARK-Interfax and Orbis Bureau Van Djik bases, Switzerland’s trade register, Internet sites, and e-mail correspondence etc – the tax authorities were able to prove in court, the presence of actual control between ... Continue to full case