The STAR Businessweek
Is it just me or does it feel like the water is coming to a boil? As we’ve written in our past two issues of The STAR Businessweek, this month Saint Lucia’s financial institutions and authorities will be required to make their first of many CRS-compliant filings as part of a series of international financial reporting obligations that our country, along with other Caribbean nations, reticently committed to as part of a global push to combat global tax dodgers, money laundering and a slew of legal (yet cheeky) tax minimization strategies employed by global corporations and high net worth individuals, and their armies of savvy tax lawyers. That, at least, is the official justification for the expensive and especially onerous cost of compliance. The more cynical among us may say we’re just trying to keep off the EU’s blacklist of tax havens. Whichever justification suits your view of global taxation, CRS filings are but one of several business practices our semi-rebellious nation is going to have to defend against international regulators and our foreign-aid benefactors—and in case you didn’t know, they’re one and the same. The European Union’s patience is starting to run thin on countries that insist on trading their respective passports (and easy access to the Schengen Zone) for cash—excuse me, I mean ‘donations’. For now, the EU’s crosshairs are aimed at member-culprits like Malta which, in just few years, has become the leading outpost for passports-for-cash transactions and, in the EU’s words, ‘conduits for money laundering’. Like the CRS deadline, it’s only a matter of time until the EU looks to countries like Saint Lucia which, much like Malta, couple their preferential Schengen Zone arrangements and banking secrecy laws to aid and abet Russians, Iranians, Saudis and Chinese nationals in their transnational shenanigans. Ladies and gentlemen, this ain’t your grandparents’ Citizenship by Investment Programme. To learn more about this ticking time bomb, begin with our cover story “Crime and Citizenship: The Security Risks of CIPs” It’s Nothing Personal. It’s Business.