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Belize added to EU tax-haven blacklist

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019. 11:44 am CST.

By BBN Staff: Belize, along with nine other jurisdictions, has been added to the European Union’s (EU) revised tax-haven blacklist despite assurances from Belize’s Financial Secretary and Prime Minister, that the country had already been making efforts to avoid being placed on the list.

Finance Ministers of the EU agreed to add 10 countries to the list on Tuesday, despite push-back from some EU members about adding some countries to the list, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The agreement means the list will now feature 15 jurisdictions, triple the amount it did before its last review.

“The blacklist has had a resounding effect on tax transparency and fairness worldwide,” EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said in a statement. “We are raising the bar of tax good governance globally and cutting out the opportunities for tax abuse.”

The EU list is composed of countries that “either failed to deliver on their commitments to comply with required good-governance criteria, or did not commit to do so at all,” according to the European Commission, the EU executive in Brussels.

Belize, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Dominica, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Oman, Vanuatu and the UAE were added to the list which already included American Samoa, Guam, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The key aim of of the updated tax-haven blacklist has been to act as an incentive for countries to bring their tax systems in line with EU standards, for fear of being named and shamed.

The 28-nation EU set up the blacklist in December 2017 after revelations of widespread tax avoidance schemes used by corporations and wealthy individuals to lower their tax bills. Blacklisted states face reputational damages and stricter controls on transactions with the EU, although no sanctions have yet been agreed by EU states. Jurisdictions are blacklisted if they have shortfalls in their tax rules that could favor tax evasion in other states. Those who commit to change the rules by a set deadline are removed from the list.

Financial Secretary Joseph Waight had recently told the media that Belize had been cooperating with the EU Code of Conduct Group to ensure Belize remained off the blacklist and to review Belize’s tax regime and see how the country could strengthen its laws.

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