Darren Boon / Head, Reporting Team
In response to a media enquiry from The Online Citizen, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has dispelled talk of a blacklist of non-cooperative tax centres. There had been speculation that Singapore was among one of the countries on the list.
Mr Nicolas Bray, Head of Media and Public Affairs & Communications of the OECD, told The Online Citizen: “There is no new ‘OECD list’ of tax havens and we are not quoting any specific number of tax havens.”
In the OECD’s “2007 Offshore Tax Evasion: The Role of Exchange of Information” report, it warned of the directing of tax evasion from one country to that of an offshore centre such as Singapore.
The report had stated that Singapore has “used the fact that it is not on the OECD list of tax havens and has restrictive exchange of information provisions in its tax treaties to market itself as the ultimate secrecy jurisdiction”.
It cautioned that such secrecy jurisdictions may facilitate tax evasion by other countries’ residents.
A list of uncooperative tax havens does exist although it dates back to 2005. There are currently three countries on the list – Andorra, Liechtenstein and Monaco.
Mr Bray clarified that the list media reports had referred to was actually an information table that provides information on jurisdictions that currently do not conform to the internationally agreed standards of transparency and information.
Mr Bray also stated that other jurisdictions are also on the table in addition to Andorra, Liechtenstein and Monaco although he added that while some jurisdictions have signalled their intention to change, some had not made any formal announcement.
He did not, however, dispel the future possibility of a “blacklist”. “The information that was provided by the OECD to the G-20 and the various announcements that have been made will be taken into account,” Mr Bray explained. He was referring to countries and jurisdictions that currently do not make available banking information for tax purposes. This contravenes international standards established between the OECD and other countries, and approved by G-20 finance ministers and a relevant UN committee. “The G-20 governments will decide what they wish to do regarding any possible lists,” Mr Bray said.
“The information that I refer to is a snapshot of the present – where intentions have not yet been transformed into reality,” My Bray added.
The G-20, made up of a group of major industrialised countries, will examine a proposal to blacklist certain countries at a summit meeting in London on April 2.
Meanwhile, the OECD has welcomed Singapore’s moves to endorse the OECD’s standard of exchange of information by dismantling domestic hurdles to information exchange.
The Online Citizen is currently awaiting a response from the Ministry of Finance on this matter.