The European Union has released a blacklist of 17 countries which it says are tax havens, after 10 months of investigations by officials, The Independent reports.
After a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday EU finance ministers said American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates are not doing enough to crack down on offshore avoidance schemes.
Crucially for the UK, the main list excludes a number of British Overseas Territories such as the Cayman Island and Bermuda that were on a previous EU blacklist from June 2015. Complaints about the methodology of that last list saw it scrapped and replaced with the new register.
The lack of well established tax havens from the list however led some MEPs and anti-tax avoidance campaigns to brand it a “whitewash”.
The new list was drafted by the European Council’s Code of Conduct (COC), a group comprised of finance ministers from EU member states, including the UK. Countries’ inclusion is based on whether a state gives preferential treatment to companies enabling them to move profits to avoid charges.
Another 47 countries have also been included in a “grey” list of countries not compliant with EU tax standards but who have committed to change their rules. These countries will have to adopt EU rules by the end of 2018, or 2019 for developing countries, to avoid being included in the main list.