March 8, 2021

Bahamas, St Kitts-Nevis and USVI added to EU tax haven blacklist

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From Caribbean News Now

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Despite a last-minute effort by deputy prime minister and minister of finance, Peter Turnquest, and minister of financial services, Brent Symonette, to prevent the country’s blacklisting, The Bahamas was on Tuesday included on the European Union (EU) list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes. St Kitts and Nevis and the US Virgin Islands were also added to the list.

“This is because they have failed to make commitments at a high political level in response to all of EU’s concerns,” the European Council said in a statement.

Turnquest and Symonette travelled to Brussels ahead of Tuesday’s meeting in an effort to engage the Code of Conduct Group and the Council directly.

Turnquest said the EU’s reasoning is “regrettable”.

In an effort to avoid blacklisting, several bills were passed in the Bahamas Parliament last year. These included the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Amendment Bill, 2017, Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Amendment Regulations, 2017 and the International Tax Cooperation Amendment Bill, 2017.

St Kitts and Nevis foreign affairs minister, Mark Brantley, said, “I think these matters are always unfortunate; certainly these are issues that have reputational risks for our country and we as a government are concerned about it.

“We have been engaging in a very robust way with the EU and its various member countries and there’s been quite a level of diplomatic engagement with them to seek to understand the reasons for this, and of course, to seek to have St Kitts and Nevis removed quickly from this blacklist.”

Brantley said he is optimist that the EU will reconsider and that St Kitts and Nevis will be removed be removed from that list in short order.

Blacklisted countries could face EU sanctions, certain controls on financial transactions between these countries and the EU, and reputational damage.

The EU has removed Saint Lucia from the list, and at the same meeting added Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda to a greylist of jurisdictions that do not respect EU anti-tax avoidance standards but have committed to change their practices.

The EU said on Tuesday that accountants, bankers and lawyers will face penalties if they fail to report aggressive tax avoidance schemes that help companies or individuals move money to offshore havens, under a new European Union law.

Valdis Dombrovskis, a European commission vice-president, said Tuesday’s agreement on tax transparency would result in greater tax revenue for member states.

He added: “The European Union will of course use its political influence to push for a similar agreement on an international level.”

Tax campaigners welcomed the moves for greater transparency but called on Brussels to do more to clamp down on tax avoidance inside the EU.

Oxfam’s tax policy adviser, Johan Langerock, said: “The commission rightly named and shamed several EU member states last week for their aggressive tax policies – but now action must follow those words to stamp out tax avoidance in the EU. Governments should tackle tax havens within the EU with the same urgency they are pressuring other countries to adopt tax reforms.”

After the latest changes to the EU’s tax blacklist, the list of “non-cooperative jurisdictions” now stands at nine, while 62 fall onto the greylist.

IMAGE: Valdis Dombrovskis, a European commission vice-president. Photo: Stephanie Lecocq/EPA

For more on this story go to: http://wp.caribbeannewsnow.com/2018/03/13/bahamas-st-kitts-nevis-and-usvi-added-to-eu-tax-haven-blacklist/

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