Brussels is preparing to add three jurisdictions to its so-called tax haven blacklist – just days after Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia were removed from the draft list.
According to a report by Reuters, based on what it said was a document seen by its journalists, the Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands and St Kitts and Nevis are due to be added to the blacklist, pending a formal decision at the EU’s monthly meeting of finance ministers on Tuesday (tomorrow).
The fluctuating blacklist will remain at nine jurisdictions, with the remaining six countries listed as Trinidad and Tobago, Samoa, American Samoa, Guam, Namibia and Palau.
In addition, the 28 EU governments “are also expected to delist Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia”, Reuters reported on Friday.
The initial list, published in December (left), consisted of 17 jurisdictions, but eight were subsequently removed after just one month. (These are identified with an asterisk.)
Panama was among the countries to be swiftly de-listed, in January – a move which drew widespread criticism, given the jurisdiction’s association with the “Panama Papers” revelations in April, 2015.
As reported, the Panama Papers was what some observers at the time called an unprecedented leak of confidential and revealing documents from a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, which resulted in global coverage by major news organisations that has continued on and off ever since, and has seen numerous governments and organisations vow to make changes in order to prevent some of the types of tax avoidance and evasion some of the leaked documents revealed.
The EU’s determination to draw up a tax haven blacklist, in fact, intensified in the wake of the Panama Papers publicity.
The European Council has said that it intends to update its tax haven blacklist at least once a year, although the EC’s Code of Conduct Group, which is responsible for preparing it, may recommend an update at any time.
At the time the list was unveiled in December, some critics argued that it was incomplete, as it left out a number of jurisdictions seen by some to be tax evasion facilitators. One such group was the Tax Justice Network, which said the original 17-jurisdiction list represented a missed opportunity to tackle the real issues it claimed lay behind the what it called the large-scale tax avoidance and tax evasion currently “bleeding EU countries dry”.