Reacting to European Finance Ministers removing the British territory of Bermuda, Barbados, and the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba from the EU blacklist of tax havens today, Oxfam’s Inequality Campaign Manager, Adam Musgrave said:
“EU governments have again whitewashed some of the world’s worst tax havens, including British overseas territory Bermuda. The reforms agreed by Bermuda, Barbados and Aruba are not enough to let them off the hook.
“Countries like Bermuda with zero – or low – tax rates should be blacklisted by the EU, to make it clear to big companies that shifting profits to these jurisdictions is unacceptable. The UK can lead the way in tax transparency by pushing its overseas territories and crown dependencies to follow decent tax standards, including coming clean on who owns businesses registered there. This would help poor countries raise more revenue to help fund schools and hospitals for the world’s poorest people.”
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Notes to Editors
Bermuda, Barbados and Aruba were removed from the blacklist, but Bermuda and Barbados have been listed in the ‘grey list’, while Aruba has been delisted from both lists.
Last year the UK Government passed a law requiring British Overseas Territories, including Bermuda, to implement a public register of beneficial ownership to make clear who really owns the companies on their shores. This week, the UK Government confirmed that it is preparing to enforce this law if the OTs do not implement the registers by the end of 2020.
European Finance Ministers removed the tax havens of Panama, Hong Kong, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey from the EU tax haven blacklist in March 2019.
The EU blacklist includes countries that do not comply with at least one of the EU’s three criteria for tax havens – zero or near zero tax regimes are not a binding criterion, but only a ‘risk indicator’. There is also a second list, the EU ‘grey list’, that includes those countries that do not comply with at least one of the three EU tax haven criteria, but have committed to reform.
Oxfam’s report Off The Hook published in March 2019 explains why the EU blacklisting process is not fit for purpose and helps to whitewash some of the world’s tax havens.