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Belize successfully completes second peer review on international tax transparency standards

Posted: Sunday, July 2, 2023. 6:38 am CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: Belize has completed its second peer review on international tax transparency standards, according to a report in the Amandala Newspaper. The review, conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, assessed Belize’s adherence to international tax transparency standards between January 2019 and December 2021.

Speaking to Amandala, Christopher Coye, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, stated that “Of the ten elements assessed, Belize received 4 compliant, 3 largely compliant and 3 partially compliant ratings.” He communicated a sense of cautious optimism with the results, saying they are “relatively pleased” but intent on making further improvements.

The ultimate goal of this review, as the OECD explains on its website, is “to put an end to bank secrecy and tax evasion through global tax cooperation.” This cooperation is particularly crucial when dealing with cross-border investments that have become increasingly prevalent due to globalization.

The review process involved two primary standards: the exchange of information on request (EOIR) for a tax investigation and an automatic exchange of information (AEOI) concerning financial accounts held by non-residents. As per the Amandala report, Belize underwent a rigorous evaluation process, which involved a technical compliance questionnaire and an onsite assessment in September 2022.

Following the assessment, a team comprising representatives of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), the Financial Intelligence Unit, and the Central Bank of Belize traveled to Paris to meet with the OECD Peer Review Group. Director General of the FSC, Claude Haylock, told Amandala that Belize “passed” the peer review.

In response to the areas of partial compliance identified by the review, Belize is taking action to make necessary changes to its existing laws. As Minister Coye stated, “To this end, we have already taken through the House and Senate amendments to the Companies Act and the International Limited Liability Companies Act. We expect to table amendments to the Trusts Act and the Limited Liability Partnerships Act at the next House meeting.”

However, Belize’s work is far from finished. According to Amandala, the nation is preparing for another significant review, this time by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF). This review, scheduled for December 2023, will focus on Belize’s efforts to combat money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and proliferation financing (AML/CFT/PF). Belize has recently passed a raft of legislation in these areas to ensure technical compliance.

Reflecting on the challenge ahead, Minister Coye shared with Amandala, “You are right that the overwhelming majority of countries that have been assessed in connection with AML/CFT/PF have not received favorable results. We are hopeful that with our continuing efforts on both technical compliance and effectiveness in enforcement, we will not face a similar fate.”

 

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