Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Sports | By Spencer Underwood

European Union reveals first tax haven blacklist

European Union reveals first tax haven blacklist

The countries on the list are: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, Macau, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

"We will regularly review and update the list in the years to come".

An existing list of tax havens compiled by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) now includes only Trinidad and Tobago.

The EU adopted on Tuesday (5 December) a blacklist of 17 tax havens and a "grey list" of 44 countries and jurisdictions that will have to take measures against tax evasion and tax avoidance, but it stopped short of planning sanctions.

The UAE said in a statement on Thursday that it's "committed to a reform process which will be finalized by October 2018" and that it's "absolutely confident this will ensure the UAE is swiftly removed from the list".

After months of talks in the secretive code of conduct expert group, the lists were changed until the last minute following agreements with and commitments from screened countries.

Blacklisted countries may no longer be used by European Union institutions for worldwide financial operations, and transactions involving them could be subject to closer scrutiny.

The list is a result of excessive screening of more third countries before the ministers made up their mind that these 17 non-EU countries will be blacklisted, while another 47 will be included in a separate gray list, to be monitored for their compliance with commitments undertaken. "But one should not underestimate the effect of a black list", said Luxembourg's Pierre Gramegna.

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"We hope this work will continue", he said.

The move was hailed as a vital "first step" but the failure of the member states to agree on any sanctions for those on the blacklist provoked the European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, Pierre Moscovici, to concede it was as yet "an insufficient response".

French minister Bruno Le Maire noted that designing sanctions would be a "question of credibility" for the EU's anti-tax havens action.

"Although we recognize this is a step in the right direction, if European Union leaders let too many tax havens off the hook we'll all lose out", said Oli Pearce of Oxfam.

"Given the unfortunate incorporation of the country in this discriminatory list, the Republic of Panama has chose to call its Ambassador to the European Union, Dario Chiru, to assess the steps to be followed moving forward", the government said in a statement.

He said earlier this year, the European Union had send a questionnaire on tax issues, and the minister has responded, but it has not yet been forwarded back to the EU.

He admitted however that some practices should be "prohibited" or "fought" in some member states.

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