A blacklist of the world’s 30 worst-offending tax havens, published on Wednesday by the European Commission, includes 15 countries and territories within the wider Caribbean.
The list includes various well-known havens -- among them the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands and Bermuda -- but other jurisdictions that are commonly labelled as offshore tax avoidance hubs were notably missing. Switzerland, for example, was not named.
The Commission explained that the list of 30 “non-cooperative jurisdictions” was designed only to assess non-EU members. As a result, the new register does not include countries such as the Netherlands, Ireland, or Luxembourg -- all of which are under investigation by the European competition authorities, suspected of offering “sweetheart” tax deals to multinationals.
Six of the 30 tax havens named by the Commission were British overseas territories — Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Each country on the blacklist had been suggested by at least ten EU member states as problematic. The UK did not make any suggestions, nor did Germany.
The 15 countries and territories within the wider Caribbean blacklisted by the EU are:
British Virgin Islands
St Kitts and Nevis
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Turks and Caicos Islands
US Virgin Islands
Cayman Finance, the private sector body that represents the interests of the territory’s financial sector, said it is disappointed to read that the Cayman Islands has been included on the list (based on the views of 11 EU countries with which Cayman does little international business).
“It is not clear what standards have been used by these 11 countries to come to such a conclusion, in particular when the Cayman Islands has exchange of information mechanisms in place with all but one of these countries,” Cayman Finance said.
According to Cayman Finance, the Cayman Islands has consistently evolved and maintained its international tax cooperation practices to meet robust, balanced and globally implemented standards for regulation and cross border cooperation that apply equally to G20 countries and all international financial centres. This has been consistently reaffirmed in FATF and Global Forum assessments.
In addition, the Cayman Islands has consistently acknowledged its important role in the global financial market by signing up as an early adopter of automatic exchange of information arrangements such as the OECD’s common reporting standards and UK and US FATCA.
“We are confident that if these 11 EU countries transparently and objectively evaluate the Cayman Islands robust international tax cooperation regime against global standards that the Cayman Islands will be promptly removed from this non-compliant list,” Cayman Finance concluded.