06 Nov 2017
By Francesco Guarascio, REUTERS
European Union states will on Tuesday discuss plans for a tax havens’ blacklist, officials said, in a bid to tackle offshore tax avoidance after leaked documents revealed investments by wealthy individuals and institutions around the globe.
The subject’s inclusion on the monthly meeting’s agenda of EU finance ministers came after weekend media reports citing the so-called “Paradise Papers”, a trove of financial documents leaked mostly from Appleby, a prominent offshore law firm.
The documents were obtained by Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and some media outlets.
Reuters has not independently verified them.
Appleby was not immediately available for comment.
The latest revelations “put renewed emphasis on the work the European Commission is doing to fight tax avoidance”, the vice president of the EU’s executive arm, Valdis Dombrovskis, told reporters on Monday.
EU countries had planned for months to reach an agreement on a blacklist for tax havens by the end of this year.
The new revelations prompted the discussion to be brought forward, EU officials said, but no final decision was expected on Tuesday.
The EU has discussed several measures to crack down on tax avoidance, including in the wake of the “Panama Papers”, a release by the ICIJ last year which chronicled a shadowy world of offshore holdings and hidden wealth.
Measures proposed by the European Commission include an EU-wide list of tax havens meant to discourage the rerouting of profits made in the EU to tax-free or low-tax countries, like Panama or Bermuda.
At the moment, each EU state has its own list of jurisdictions that are seen as less cooperative on tax matters.
Criteria to define a tax haven vary greatly among EU states and some of them omit any jurisdictions in their national blacklists.
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