The European Union on Tuesday blacklisted 17 countries for not cooperating with the bloc in the crackdown on tax havens. The first-ever such list by the EU includes Bahrain, Panama, Saint Lucia, Barbados and South Korea.
It issued another “grey list” of 47 countries that have promised to bring in reforms to make their rules comply with EU standards. This includes Switzerland, Bermuda, Turkey and Hong Kong.
United Kingdom-based nonprofit Oxfam said the list ignored a few EU members that were notorious tax havens, such as Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Malta. The organisation had proposed its own black list of 35 countries last week.
“It is disturbing to see mostly small countries on the EU blacklist, while the most notorious tax havens – UK-linked places such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Jersey and the Virgin Islands – escape with a place on the ‘grey list,’” said Oli Pearce of Oxfam, according to the BBC. “Although we recognise this is a step in the right direction, if EU leaders let too many tax havens off the hook, we’ll all lose out.”
EU Tax Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said the black list showed “substantial progress”, and that its “very existence is an important step forward”.
The lists come just a month after the Paradise Papers leak, a trove of documents from two financial companies – Bermuda’s Appleby and Singapore’s Asiaciti – that helped thousands of individuals and entities who had moved their money abroad and invested it in 19 tax havens.
The 28 members of the European Union are believed to have worked on the list for more than a year. Countries including Ireland, Malta and Luxembourg, as well as the UK, showed resistance. While the smaller countries worried about scaring off the major firms headquartered in their low-tax Capitals, the UK did not want to affect its dependencies like Jersey and the British Virgin Islands, where nearly zero-tax rates are offered.