Crackdown on tax havens delayed

The move, the OECD reports, follows the willingness of many of the 47 jurisdictions suspected of ‘harmful’ tax practices to open their books to inspectors seeking to track down tax fraudsters.

The OECD, which represents richer industrialised countries, still intends to publish the list, belived to include Caribbean states and British territories such as Jersey, in June.

But any which cooperate with the OECD will escape the threat of sanctions while the OECD refines the list. These sanctions could include the scrapping of double tax treaties with OECD members and overseas aid.

Reinforcing the OECD’s proactive stance, Frances Horner, head of tax competition unit, is reported to have said: ‘Our goal is to promote change, not to apply sanctions.’ The refined list will detail only those jurisdictions that have not agreed to reform and help the OECD track down tax fraudsters.

The OECD’s position was strenghtened earlier this month when two of its members, Switzerland and Luxembourg, agreed to end the use of banking secrecy laws.

Offshore havens have always accused the organisation of hypocrisy. Trying to bring about fiscal transparency in Caribbean states and British territories when European countries continued such practices was seen as double standards.

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