Viacom Accused of Hiding Mutant Ninja Revenue in Netherlands

  • Fired executive claims retaliation for opposing illegal scheme
  • Ex-vice president says Netherlands entity was key to tax plan

Viacom Inc. was accused by one of its former executives of plotting to hide revenue from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in a Netherlands entity to avoid taxes.

The ex-vice president for financial planning at Viacom claims she was fired after opposing what she believed was an illegal tax dodge. Nataki Williams also said she learned the company planned to save itself millions of dollars by using the same scheme for other popular children’s shows, including “Dora the Explorer” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

“The sole purpose of transferring the licensing rights to the Netherlands company was to avoid the U.S. tax burden,” according to the complaint filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

In the summer of 2013, another Viacom vice president instructed all the company’s finance employees to not mention details of the tax avoidance plans in e-mail, according to the filing. Williams said that as she got drawn into the scheme, she continued to voice opposition to it.

Three months into her maternity leave, Williams said, she was fired. Viacom claimed the termination was because she improperly listed a partner, the father of her child, as a spouse on benefits paperwork, according to the filing.

“Nataki Williams is a former Viacom employee who was terminated in 2014 for fraudulently claiming company benefits to which she was not entitled,” the company said in a statement. “Her legal claims are completely without merit, and we will vigorously defend against these claims in court.”

The case is Williams v. Viacom International Media Networks, 16-cv-00026, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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