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EU adopts blacklist of 17 tax havens - officials

Activists stage a protest on a mock tropical island beach representing a tax haven outside a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels. Photo: Francois Lenoir, Reuters

Activists stage a protest on a mock tropical island beach representing a tax haven outside a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels. Photo: Francois Lenoir, Reuters

Updated 3.30pm with Oxfam reaction

European Union finance ministers adopted on Tuesday a blacklist of tax havens which includes 17 extra-EU jurisdictions seen as not cooperative on tax matters, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates are the countries listed, officials said.

Le Maire said that other 47 jurisdictions are included in a public "grey" list of countries that are currently not compliant with EU standards but have committed to change their tax rules.

Read: Malta should be on tax haven list – Oxfam

Following multiple disclosures of offshore tax avoidance schemes by companies and wealthy individuals, EU states launched a process in February to list tax havens in a bid to discourage setting up shell structures abroad which are themselves in many cases legal but could hide illicit activities.

Blacklisted countries could lose access to EU funds. Other possible countermeasures will be decided in coming weeks, Le Maire said.

Oxfam disappointed with list

Reacting to the news, Aurore Chardonnet, Oxfam EU policy advisor on inequality and tax, said: “It is disturbing to see mostly small countries on the EU blacklist, while the most notorious tax havens got away on the ‘grey list’.

“It seems the EU’s pressure has obliged some of the most notorious tax havens like Switzerland and Bermuda to commit to reforms. 

“However, placing countries on a ‘grey list’ shouldn't just be a way of letting them off the hook, as has happened with other blacklisting efforts in the past. The EU has to make sure governments on the grey list follow up on their commitments, or else they must be blacklisted.

“Only a strong blacklist with effective sanctions for the companies and wealthy individuals exploiting tax havens will help end tax dodging.

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