Swiss-based luxury goods company, Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, commonly known as Richemont, announced the termination of the current arrangement for reclaiming Swiss withholding tax on dividends. The termination affects bona fide South African tax resident holders of Richemont’s depositary receipts (DRs). The decision comes following communication from the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (SFTA) and will be effective from the 2022 dividend year.
Previously, Richemont Securities SA and Computershare acted as agents in the reclaim process for the Swiss withholding tax on Richemont dividends paid to South African DR holders. However, as per the new arrangement, each CFR depositary receipt holder or beneficiary will now be required to submit a refund request directly to the SFTA. This change eliminates the involvement of Richemont Securities and Computershare in the process.
The SFTA has committed to reviewing all claims submitted until 2021 and processing reimbursements for claimants deemed eligible to receive a refund. During the preliminary review, claims that do not meet the criteria will be rejected. For contentious claimants whose requests are rejected, it may be necessary to resubmit their claims and collaborate with the SFTA to resolve any issues regarding refunds.
While Richemont is currently exploring an alternative process to assist claimants in filing their claims under the standard procedure, further details will be provided in a subsequent announcement once an agreement has been reached with the SFTA. In the interim, Richemont has received funds from the SFTA for certain outstanding claims and is eagerly awaiting information on successful claimants to expedite payment.
Richemont acknowledges that the cost and administrative effort for South African claimants may increase compared to the previous program administered by Computershare and Richemont. It is crucial to note that Richemont Securities and Computershare explicitly state that they are not responsible for any delays or failures by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) or the SFTA in accepting claims or providing refunds.
In the event that SARS or the SFTA rejects claims or fails to process refunds, Richemont Securities and Computershare have undertaken to inform holders of the situation. Claimants can then choose to personally address the matter with the relevant tax authorities, if deemed appropriate.