France has added The Bahamas, Anguilla, Virgin Islands and the Seychelles to its blacklist of tax havens for lack of cooperation, according to Public Accounts Minister Gerald Darmanin.
Darmanin said in an interview with Journal du Dimanche: "Before the report of the Court of Auditors on tax evasion, I announce that we will blacklist four new countries: Anguilla, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and the Seychelles, which are not cooperative enough in terms of financial transparency."
France has been carrying out investigations into 500 offshore companies following the Panama Papers scandal three years ago which exposed illegal practices in the offshore finance industry.
We will blacklist four new countries: Anguilla, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and the Seychelles, which are not cooperative enough in terms of financial transparency"
The Bahamas Attorney General Bethel told local press that a final decision has not been made by the French government. "As I understand it France is advising that they may blacklist us. I'm not aware that it has gone beyond foreshadowing by their Minister."
"We are in discussions with French authorities," he added.
Earlier this year The Bahamas avoided being blacklisted as a tax haven by the European Union (EU).
Seychelles' Minister of Finance called the decision "hostile, regrettable and disappointing," and noted that it would have a negative effect on Seychelles' economy, amid indications of high-level communications between the government and ambassador over the issue.
Speaking to the Seychelles News Agency, the French ambassador to island, Dominique Mas, said: "Seychelles, like the other countries which have also been blacklisted, were slow in providing the information requested by the French authority and the information provided was deemed not adequate."
The finance minister, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, said the government would look at some of Seychelles' laws and amend them as soon as possible so they comply with international norms.
Loustau-Lalanne added that he is writing a letter of protest to the French prime minister Edouard Philippe to convey Seychelles' disappointment.
"We will protest because I feel this is a hostile action. We need to get out of this situation and we need to work with the French authorities to remedy this situation as quickly as possible," he told SNA.