According to the organisation's website www.weforum.org, viewed by Ethical Consumer in February 2021, Rakuten Kobo was an Associate Partner, Partner, Platform Partner, Strategic Partner, or Strategic Partner Associate of the World Economic Forum. This was regarded by Ethical Consumer as an international corporate lobby group which exerted undue corporate influence on policy-makers in favour of market solutions that were potentially detrimental to the environment and human rights. The company therefore lost half a mark under Political Activities.

Reference:

Ethical Consumer Lobby Group member list (February 2021)

In July 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed Kobo Rakuten's list of subsidiaries in the Hoovers corporate database. This showed that the company had six subsidiaries in jurisdictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens at the time of writing. Of these, one was a holding company, Play Holdings in Jersey, which was a high risk company type for likely use of tax avoidance and another, Viber Media S.à r.l.. registered in Luxembourg, had subsidiaries in other countries, so was also considered a holding company.

An internet search using the search terms “Kobo Rakuten 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, nor did the company provide a narrative explanation for what each group entity located in a tax haven is for, and how it is not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.

Given that Kobo Rakuten had two high risk subsidiaries in jurisdictions on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list and no country-by-country financial information, nor an adequate policy statement or narrative explanation, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies and lost a full mark under Tax Conduct.

Reference:

Generic Hoovers ref (5 January 2021)