Caribbean Association of Banks Inc. (CAB) Responds to EU’s “Blacklist”
The release of the “Action Plan for Fair and Efficient Corporate Taxation in the EU” by the European Union Commission on the 17th June, 2015, which included 15 Caribbean countries in a “blacklist” of non-cooperative jurisdictions, has caused the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB) grave concern. Notwithstanding that the European Union has now clarified that the final decision, regarding which countries should be on the list, has not been made; it must be highlighted that the timing of this publication and its general perception as a new “blacklist” could have far-reaching effects on the Caribbean’s financial services sector.
Indigenous banks in the region are currently being challenged with the threat of loss of correspondent banking relationships which are provided by international banks. An additional “blacklist”, based on unclear criteria, may serve to exacerbate the perception of our region as a high risk area and consequently, negatively impact the Risk Rating profile of financial institutions by correspondent banks. The financial services industry cannot survive without correspondent banking relationships and, as a result, neither can our economies.
The CAB is pleased to note the response of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes which confirms that: “the only agreeable assessment of countries as regards their cooperation is made by the Global Forum and a number of countries identified in the EU exercise are either fully or largely compliant and have committed to AEOI (Automatic Exchange of Information), sometimes even as early adopters.”
It is noteworthy that the eight CARICOM countries and five associated members which are named in the EU’s report are all included in the OECD’s list of members who have committed to Automatic Exchange of Information.
The CAB therefore calls upon the EU to carefully review the criteria used by its member states to assess and determine the countries that are non-compliant in tax matters. Additionally, the CAB strongly recommends greater collaboration between the EU, the OECD and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes before “blacklist” reports are issued. The CAB also urges regional governments to act together to ensure that the region is represented in such key decision-making processes which can impact the growth and development of our economies.
The Caribbean Association of Banks, Inc is a community of banks and other financial institutions in the Caribbean/ CARICOM Region which provides opportunities for discussion on issues impacting the regional banking/financial services community. CAB is dedicated to the advocacy of national and institutional adherence to Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorist Financing (AML/CFT). It recommends and supports full compliance with the AML/CFT standards in order to protect all financial systems within the region from ongoing risks, offering ongoing training and education for its members.
Last week the EU released a blacklist of tax havens. The list of 30 territories includes Hong Kong and Brunei in Asia, Monaco, Andorra and Guernsey in Europe and a series of Caribbean havens including
the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands.