Relief for Crown Dependencies and BOTs as EU blacklist fears prove unfounded

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The long-awaited European Council’s Code of Conduct (COC) was published today, with relief for UK Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories (BOTs) who do no feature on the EC blacklist of so-called tax havens.

The Council (EC) named and shamed 17 jurisdictions that it says are not compliant with European Union (EU) regulations, and are not doing enough to clamp down on what it sees as unacceptable offshore tax avoidance.

The full list, representing the culmination of ten months of investigation by EU tax officials, is as follows:

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

As recently as this morning, as reported by International Investment, sources were claiming that up to 25 jurisdictions were likely to make the final list, though the Financial Times noted that “Panama, Samoa, Guam and the Marshall Islands… are likely to be removed after they made last-minute promises to reform”. In the event, all four stayed on the blacklist.

While this will come as a relief to jurisdictions such as Cayman, Bermuda, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, praise for the EC was far from universal, Tax Justice Network chief executive Alex Cobham was scornful, pictured above, dismissing the table as a “politically led list, that includes only the economically weak and politically unconnected”.

The EC stated that whether or not a country is included is a judgment call as to whether it gives preferential treatment to companies that allows 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.

“We have adopted at EU level a list of states which are not doing enough to fight tax evasion,” French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said.