UNDER THE PUMP: Pfizer Australia managing director David Gallagher.
UNDER THE PUMP: Pfizer Australia managing director David Gallagher. Peter Parksafp

Drug company honchos pressed on loss of tax dollars

AN AUSTRALIAN executive at one of the world's biggest drug companies has been unable to explain why the firm is owned by three offshore holding firms.

Pfizer Australia managing director David Gallagher told a Senate hearing on tax avoidance that as a "local" manager he did not know why the complex structure was in place.

He told the hearing the company's Australian arm was owned by two Netherlands holding companies and a Luxembourg corporation on a split of 45%, 45% and 10%.

Pressed by Senator Sam Dastyari to "take a punt" at answering the question, Mr Gallagher said he was unable to do so. He later took on notice a question about the firm's corporate structures.

Sen Dastyari told the hearing the nine biggest drug companies earned upwards of $8.2 billion in Australia but were paying as little as $86 million in domestic taxes.

"Frankly the pharmaceutical companies in Australia have set the trend when it comes to tax minimisation and profit shifting," he said.


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