ZURICH (Reuters) - Voters in a small Swiss town decided on Sunday to donate 110,000 Swiss francs (75,395.09 pounds) of taxes paid by GlencoreXstrata (GLEN.L) Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg to charity in a protest against the commodities giant’s business practices.
Voters in Hedingen, a town of around 3,500 inhabitants in the canton of Zurich, backed by 764 to 662 an initiative to donate about ten percent of the tax money the town received in the wake of Glencore’s initial public offering in 2011.
“(Hedingen) is making a clear sign of solidarity with those suffering the consequences of the extraction of raw materials,” the committee behind the popular vote said in a statement.
Glencore’s top shareholder Glasenberg, who lives in the Swiss town of Rueschlikon, paid 360 million Swiss francs in taxes in the canton of Zurich in 2011, Rueschlikon’s mayor Bernhard Elsener told Reuters.
Hedingen received about one million francs under a redistribution scheme that smoothes out fiscal inequalities between the canton’s municipalities.
Asked for comment, GlencoreXstrata, the group formed by the merger of Glencore and Xstrata this year, referred to a statement in its code of conduct: “We believe that GlencoreXstrata’s global presence and economic strength have a predominantly positive impact on the communities in which we operate. We seek out, undertake and contribute to activities and programmes designed to improve quality of life for the people in these communities.”
Hedingen will donate the money to three different non-governmental organisations conducting humanitarian projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia and Bolivia.
Neighbouring municipalities in Affoltern a.A., Hausen, Kappel, Mettmenstetten and Obfelden are going to organise similar votes over the next months. Other towns, including Rueschlikon, have already decided against donating part of the tax proceeds.
Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz, Additional reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva; Editing by Mark Potter