‘Paradise Papers’ leak prompts EU to bring forward tax haven blacklist discussion: reports

The publication on Sunday by more than 90 news organisations of information  allegedly contained in a leaked trove of financial documents stolen from the Bermuda outpost of the Appleby law firm is reported to have convinced European Union finance ministers to move a planned discussion on a proposed “tax haven blacklist” forward, according to media sources.

As reported here in June, EU ministers have been talking for more than a year about compiling a definitive blacklist of tax havens, as they look to crack down on tax avoidance, as well as to encourage foreign jurisdictions to sign up to the same rules that EU countries play by.

The EU’s determination to draw up a pan-European blacklist dates to the leak of 11.5 million files in April, 2016, from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Sunday’s release of another trove of leaked documents from another offshore law firm – this time, Bermuda’s Appleby, as reported  – has focused EU officials’ attention on the blacklist idea again.

Last June, the EU’s finance ministers agreed to set a September deadline for establishment of a list of so-called “non-cooperative jurisdictions”, with endorsement of the list to be set for 2017.

The list would, it was agreed, be drawn up by the EU Code of Conduct Group, which would also look at possible sanctions that might be imposed on those jurisdictions deemed to be non-cooperative.

Currently, each EU country has its own list of jurisdictions that are seen as less cooperative on tax matters than desired, according to Reuters, which today reported the plan   by the EU finance ministers to move their blacklist discussion to tomorrow, when they are scheduled to hold their monthly meeting.

In other blacklist news, the director of the Channel Islands Brussels Office, Steve Williams, was quoted in The Jersey Evening Post on Sunday as saying Jersey authorities were due to find out early in December whether that island would be included on the blacklist being drawn up by the EU.

Williams’s comments came at a finance industry conference, according to the JEP article, which noted that he said the blacklist, together with new EU requirements calling for the beneficial ownership of trusts to be registered, were “current EU policy developments of particular importance to the [Channel Islands]”.

It also quoted him as saying that Jersey and Guernsey were among some 92 jurisdictions currently being screened by panels of experts established by the EU Code of Conduct Group on business taxation.

To read The Jersey Evening Post article in full on the publication’s website, click here. 

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