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EU adds Belize, Seychelles, Antigua and Barbuda to tax havens list

Published Oct 17, 2023 07:34PM ET
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© Reuters. A European Union flag flutters outside the congress palace ahead of the European Political Community summit in Granada, Spain, October 4, 2023. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/ File Photo

By Sarah Morland

(Reuters) -The Council of the European Union on Tuesday added the Indian Ocean island state of Seychelles and the Caribbean countries of Belize and Antigua and Barbuda to a list of 16 nations and territories deemed "non-cooperative" on taxes.

The council said all three jurisdictions either lacked tax information or failed to deliver on commitments regarding governance and transparency reforms.

The list also includes Russia, Panama, five other Caribbean states and territories and six in the Pacific Ocean.

The EU broadly asks its members to take the list into account for diplomatic and economic decisions, and commits to stronger monitoring for transactions or taxpayers linked to these countries, and bans channeling some EU funds through them.

The Council said in a statement the three new additions lacked a "largely compliant" rating from the OECD's Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, though Belize had made commitments to improve within the next year.

Belize's government blasted the move as an unjust "automatic" listing that disregarded reforms that addressed the Global Forum's July concerns, adding it will request an immediate review.

Barring Russia, it said in a statement, the EU list only includes "small and vulnerable countries like Belize yet fails to include any EU member state" which were given the same Global Forum rating.

"The EU's 'listing' process is devoid of the values of shared responsibility, mutual respect, accountability, fairness, and solidarity," the government said.

Oxfam's EU tax expert Chiara Putaturo also slammed the list as "toothless" for not screening the United States, the UK, or EU states such as Luxembourg and Malta, adding "countries deemed too big to be listed can no longer escape scrutiny."

The EU Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Council also removed the British Virgin Islands territory, the Marshall Islands and Costa Rica from the list.

EU adds Belize, Seychelles, Antigua and Barbuda to tax havens list
 

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