Commonwealth IFCs react to the “Panama Papers”
Senior officials from various Commonwealth small states recently held a round table discussion in London to reflect on the implication of the “Panama Papers”. As these states have been identified as key International Financial Centres (IFCs), there has been increased international focus on their role in the current international debate on tax evasion (and tax avoidance), money laundering and other financial crimes. A number of these states appear in the EU Blacklist of 2015 and have also been identified as “jurisdictions of relevance” by the G20 for the purpose of the new standards of Automatic Exchange of Tax Information.
(Photo courtesy of the Commonwealth Secretariat)
The meeting that was convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat with the input and participation of CATA discussed, amongst other aspects, the implication of the Panama Papers for these small states, the legitimate concerns of these states over these “leaks” and the international perception of the role of IFCs. More importantly, the participants discussed how to ensure that their voices are represented in the on-going international discourse, particularly those involved in setting certain standards of compliance. It was noted that many of these countries are members of the Global Forum and are already taking various measures towards enhanced transparency in spite of the inherent challenges that they face in implementing the standards.
Participants were addressed by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Baroness Patricia Scotland at a reception held in Marlborough House. Participating countries included Seychelles, Mauritius, The Bahamas, Grenada, British Virgin Island, Anguilla, Cook Island, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, Barbados, Cyprus, Malta, Samoa, Nauru, Vanuatu, Trinidad &Tobago, and St Vincent & Grenadines.