In March 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Kao's list of subsidiaries on www.kao.com/global/en/about/outline/group-companies. This showed that the company had subsidiaries in jurisdictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens at the time of writing. Of these, two were holding companies, which was a high risk company type for likely use of tax avoidance:
1. Kao Singapore Private Limited - a holding company with subsidiaries based in Malaysia;
2. Kao (Hong Kong) Limited - a holding company with subsidiaries in China.
An internet search using the search terms “Kao Group tax policy statement country” found no country-by-country financial information or reporting (CBCR), nor clear public tax statement confirming that it was this company’s policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity or to use tax havens for tax avoidance purposes AND the company did not provide a narrative explanation for what each group entity located in a tax haven was for, and why it was not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.
Given that Kao had two or more high risk subsidiaries in jurisdictions on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list and no country-by-country financial information, nor adequate policy statement and narrative explanation, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies and lost a whole mark under this category.