European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, in this file picture taken October 28, 2015. (FILE)
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BRUSSELS – Four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries were named Tuesday in a new list of global tax havens released by the European Union.
EU finance ministers said that the countries –Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago –were among 17 countries on the blacklist of tax havens, after ten months of investigations by EU officials.
Caribbean countries have in the past been very critical of being included on these lists insisting that they have done everything as outlined by various European organisations like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The finance ministers who met here on Tuesday also named American Samoa, Bahrain, Guam, South Korea, Macau, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
They said the countries on the blacklist were not doing enough to crack down on offshore avoidance schemes.
Potential sanctions that could be enforced on members of the list are expected to be agreed in the coming weeks.
The list excludes a number of British Overseas Territories such as the Cayman Island and Bermuda that were on a previous EU blacklist from June 2015. Complaints about the methodology of that last list saw it scrapped and replaced with the new register.
The new list was drafted by the European Council’s Code of Conduct (COC), a group comprised of finance ministers from EU member states. Countries’ inclusion is based on whether a state gives preferential treatment to companies enabling them to move profits to avoid charges.
Another 47 countries have also been included in a “grey” list of countries not compliant with EU tax standards but who have committed to change their rules.
“This initiative is already proving its value, as numerous countries have worked to meet the deadline for making commitments on the basis of our criteria”, said Toomas Tõniste, minister for finance of Estonia, which currently holds the European Council presidency.
“But it is also important that we closely monitor the implementation of commitments made by our partners around the world. This is not just a one-off process. We will regularly review and update the list in the years to come. Our aim is to ensure that good tax governance becomes the new norm.”
Members of the European Parliament have criticised the absence of certain countries from the list with Sven Giegold, economics spokesperson for the Green group, noting that ‘not one of the most important tax havens has been put on the list.
“The list is politically biased as relevant financial centres like the United States of America are missing.”
The announcement comes less than a month after the publication of the Paradise Papers, a global leak containing information about individuals and companies holding offshore finances. (CMC)