France blacklists BVI and Bahamas as non-cooperative tax havens

Pedro Gonçalves
France blacklists BVI and Bahamas as non-cooperative tax havens

France has added the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Seychelles to its list of non-cooperative countries and territories in fiscal matters.

Paris updates the list annually and it now comprises 13 countries, including Panama, Oman as well as the British and US Virgin Islands. Vanuatu has been placed on the European blacklist.

The updated tax blacklist was released on 7 Jan. by Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gérald Darmanin and follows the publication of a similar updated list by the Netherlands.

France’s list will be harder than that of the EU"

France has blamed the jurisdictions' deficiencies in the exchange of tax information for the listing, stating that French tax authorities were unable to obtain the requested information.

Bahamas deputy prime minister Peter Turnquest, however, said his government was "in the blind" about the reasons for the tax blacklisting. "Actually, we are waiting for a response from them to our specific inquiries about the criteria and the issues they have identified as the reasons for this listing. Once we have that information, we will certainly address it," he said, according to the Bahamas Tribune.

BVI premier Andrew Fahie said in a statement that France had overlooked the good tax cooperation between them and the BVI in their decision to add the territory to the list.

"As our treaty partner, we continue to cooperate with France on an ongoing basis to meet our treaty obligations. However, there appears to be a misunderstanding and possible miscommunication on certain matters which we are working with our French partners to resolve," Fahie stated.

"For the duration of our relationship, we have diligently followed the processes laid out in the BVI-France Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) and will continue to do so. Thus, it is unfortunate that we were included on the French list while working through French requests," he added.

Gerald Darmanin, France's minister of public action and accounts, said: "France's list will be harder than that of the EU." He added that The Bahamas and the other jurisdictions "are not cooperative enough in terms of financial transparency".

The list is part of France's Anti-Fraud Law, adopted in October 2018, and the fight against tax evasion. It incorporates the jurisdictions on the EU tax blacklist and now includes 13 jurisdictions: Anguilla, the Bahamas, Fiji, Guam, the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands, Oman, Panama, Samoa, American Samoa, the Seychelles, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu.

Companies with a link to listed countries may be subject to a 75% withholding tax on interest and dividends, stricter information filing on transfer pricing, and no access to tax benefits.

Oxfam France said in a tweet that updating the tax haven blacklist every year, without properly regulating the access of companies listed on the French financial market, is inconsistent. It recalled that in 2016, one of its reports showed that several CAC 40 companies had thousands of subsidiaries in tax havens.


Subscribe to International Investment's free, twice-daily, newsletter