The Pandora Papers have shone a rare spotlight on the usually secretive Dutch company.
It’s not unusual for family members to fall out, but few have their grievances laid bare in newspapers.
Now an alleged rift in the family that owns Netherlands-based corporate travel agency BCD Travel has been reported in Dutch media, following the leak of sensitive financial documents.
John Fentener van Vlissingen, founder and chairman of BCD Holdings, has reportedly fallen out with his son Robert-Jan Michel Fentener van Vlissingen, who has refused to cooperate with requests from financial institutions to provide his passport and address details as a co-owner of the company.
That’s according to Dutch newspaper Trouw, which has been granted access to the Pandora Papers — an exposé by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists based on the leak of confidential records of 14 offshore service providers.
“BCD Group and all of its subsidiary companies comply with all fiscal and regulatory laws and regulations in all of the markets in which we operate. Given the rapidly changing nature of these regulations, we employ a team of people specifically dedicated to ensuring our compliance,” a BCD spokesperson told Skift.
The reported quarrel comes as corporate travel agencies regroup after a challenging 18 months of severe travel restrictions. Rival CWT is to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it refinances some $1.5 billion of debt, while many smaller agencies have been acquired by venture-capital backed platforms.
Customers will be keeping an eye on their travel management companies, in particular checking they have a clean bill of financial health as they restart their travel progams for the rest of the year and into 2022.
“One of the things that business service providers need to know is who are the ultimate beneficial owners of a company, or the ultimate beneficial owners,” reported Het Financieele Dagblad, another Dutch media organization with access to the leaked files. “They are legally obliged to do so. For this, customers must, for example, provide copies of their passports and send proof of their residential address, such as a bill for a utility bill.”
One of the leaked documents states the son does not want to give his data for security reasons, according to Het Financieele Dagblad. Trouw also reported that Robert-Jan is unhappy at having little control at BCD, despite owning a third of the shares of the company.
“There are differences of opinion in all family businesses. That’s not a newsworthy fact. More important is that the governance of BCD Group is set up in such a way that differences of opinion do not in any way affect continuity and healthy business operations,” the BCD spokesperson added. “BCD Group is a family company that has grown from humble beginnings to become a global company with operations in over 100 countries and a workforce of more than 10,000 employees.”
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Photo credit: BCD Travel's global headquarters are in Utrecht, in the Netherlands. Reginar / Unsplash