Belize added to European Union tax-haven blacklist

Galtero Lara
Marcha 13, 2019

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) are also on the draft new list, but Italy and Estonia are opposing listing of the emirates, a document seen by Reuters shows.

Jurisdictions are added to the tax haven blacklist if they have shortfalls in their tax rules that could favour tax evasion in other states.

The 28-nation list was set up in December 2017 in a bid to crackdown on tax avoidance by corporations and wealthy individuals. Blacklisted jurisdictions face reputational damage and stricter controls on their financial transactions with the EU, although no EU sanctions have yet been agreed on by European states.

Other countries from the Middle East previously added to the commission's list include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.

Financial Secretary Joseph Waight had recently told the media that Belize had been cooperating with the EU Code of Conduct Group to ensure Belize remained off the blacklist and to review Belize's tax regime and see how the country could strengthen its laws.

Vanuatu's Foreign Minister, Ralph Regenvanu, hit out against the announcement on Twitter, comparing the list to playing "a game when the rules of the game are always changing, the goalposts are always being shifted and there are several different referees".

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The final list didn't come without drama, with Romanian finance minister Eugen Teodorovici suggesting ahead of the meeting that there would be no agreement at Tuesday's session.

Pressure from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Panama prompted European Union governments last week to block another blacklist of countries that show deficiencies in countering money laundering and terrorism financing.

Last week Britain lifted its veto on the listing of its overseas territory of Bermuda, the documents show.

"The UAE remains firmly committed to its long-standing policy of meeting the highest global standards on taxation", it said.

Most of over 60 jurisdictions monitored across the world by the European Union were given one year, until the end of 2018, to comply with European Union standards and avoid being blacklisted.

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