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No blank cheque while jurisdictions are saying they are ready to ease banking secrecy

Moves by a number of financial centres over recent weeks in favour of transparency and exchange of information on tax matters have given a welcome boost to efforts to counter international tax evasion, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said yesterday.

While many jurisdictions still maintain arrangements that prevent them from assisting foreign authorities in tax investigations, recent actions and statements consistent with the OECD standards in this area on the part of some show that real progress is being achieved.

After Liechenstein, Andorra and Belgium, the three juristiction that met last Sunday - Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg - offered concessions today, but insisted their bank secrecy principle remained intact.

Banking secrecy is legitimate for their citizens. It should not be opposable to foreign tax administrations.

The experience of the Luxembourg jurisdiction with the OECD unfortunately inclines with mistrust vis-a-vis these declarations:

Luxembourg cooperates in the framework of the Anti-Bribery Convention : but it is reluctant to implement international Recs. For example penal liability of legal persons required since a couple of years and today still neither enacted nor enforced.

Definitely reluctant, because the jurisdiction was able to change its constitution in a couple of months with a unanimous vote : The Grand Duke announced his refusal to sign a legal text on 2 December 2008. The project of revision of the constitution was filed in on 3 December 2008. The first vote took place on 11 december 2008. The second vote took place on 12 March 2009.

All these jurisdiction should not have a blank cheque : to be removed from the list they have to prove that what they are saying are no delaying tactics to avoid the registering on the blacklist. To encourage them, the OECD should build a grey list of these jurisdictions on the right track to be certain that the commitment will be actual.

17:30 Posted in General | Permalink | Comments (1)


This seems a bit more like a PR stunt than legitimate intent to change. The G-20, formerly so vocal about its intent to crack down on tax havens seems to have backed away from that and is now promulgating a scrubbed version of agenda items. Pity. It may be hoped that political will and public opinion will remain galvanized and lead the way to substantive financial policy reform.

Posted by: Global Financial Integrity | 03/13/2009

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