European finance ministers have again broached the European “black list” of countries, which are making no – or very few – efforts to counter fraud and tax evasion. On the list, published for the first time in December 2017, a further nine countries now appear.
Three months ago, European countries placed seventeen countries on the first ever joint list of countries which they consider as tax havens. In January, eight countries had already been removed from the list, and on Tuesday Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia, were also removed.
Simultaneously, three new countries were added to the list. The relevant countries are the Bahamas, Saint Kitts and Nevis and the American Virgin Islands. They form part of a group of Caribbean islands that in September 2017 were affected by a number of hurricanes. As a result they obtained an extension of time from the EU, to allow them prove that they were actually tackling tax evasion.
Three countries were not able to provide such guarantees to European ministers and have therefore been added to the list. On Tuesday, four other countries were put on the European “grey list”.
On this grey list there are around sixty countries which are committed “at the highest political level” to fighting tax fraud, although European countries consider that they should be closely monitored all the same.
European member states are also trying to counter criticisms relating to the fact that the criteria which they apply, for placing countries on the black or grey list, may be somewhat opaque. By publishing letters sent by the competent working group, they hope to show greater transparency. The EU is also seeking the permission of the countries affected to publish their various commitments, as regards fighting tax fraud.