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T&T says EU information on tax haven wrong

Thursday, December 07, 2017

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad and Tobago Government yesterday said it is moving to have the oil-rich twin island republic removed from a global tax haven list issued by the European Union on Tuesday, after indicating that the information contained in the document was wrong.

Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St Lucia, and Barbados are the four Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries named by the EU that also listed 13 other countries worldwide.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told Parliament that Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi is undertaking efforts to get the island off the list and blamed the last People's Partnership Administration for the current situation.

“This is the outcome of inactivity by the [then] Government in Trinidad and Tobago, but let me just say also that these (EU) are all members of Global Forum. We in Trinidad and Tobago at this time do not report to Global Forum.

“For clarity, Trinidad and Tobago chose in 2011 to subject itself to Global Forum oversight and in 2014 reinforced that position but did nothing to put us in a position to execute that commitment,” Rowley told legislators.

EU finance ministers who met in Brussels on Tuesday said the new list was drawn up after 10 months of investigations by EU officials. The finance ministers also named American Samoa, Bahrain, Guam, South Korea, Macau, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.

They said the countries on the blacklist were not doing enough to crack down on offshore avoidance schemes. Potential sanctions that could be enforced on members of the list are expected to be agreed in the coming weeks.

The EU said that the new list was compiled through a three-step process including the pre-selection of 216 countries worldwide using more than 1,600 indicators, and that all jurisdictions chosen for screening were formally contacted, to explain the process and invite them to engage with the EU.

St Vincent and the Grenadines is listed as a jurisdiction with improved fair taxation while Bermuda and the Cayman Islands are listed as jurisdiction which introduced substance requirement.

The EU said that as a first step, a letter will be sent to all jurisdictions on the new list, explaining the decision and what they can do to be de-listed.

But Rowley told Parliament the information on the list is wrong and that his Administration intends to prove it.

“And therefore now we have been lumped with those who are in that basket, what is not being said is that in the last 24 hours this Government has done yeoman service in trying to bring us to a position to avoid these kinds of label,” Rowley said, insisting “the information presented here is not accurate and is not an accurate reflection of our State and therefore what the Government said in the last three weeks…. we are on top of this.

“There are things to be done and the attorney general has made a lot of progress with respect to our qualification,” he told legislators.

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