The 2012 G20 ‘Tax Haven’ Black-List Nominees Are…

Switzerland: Its move to Phase II Assessment is conditional upon bringing its legislative framework up to par by the middle of 2012 and is the top secrecy jurisdiction according to the 2011 Financial Secrecy Index. Left out of the 2011 list and the recently revised French ‘blacklist’ the country is not a odds-on favourite.

Panama: Even though the OECD Global Forum is still to sanction its move to Phase II Assessment, its recently concluded tax treaty with France means that it is no longer black-listed under French ‘tax haven’ law. Although listed last year it is by no means clear whether it will be listed again 2012.

Guatemala: Having failed to satisfy the Phase I requirements of the OECD Global Forum and this year added to the French tax haven ‘blacklists’, this country would have to be a top contender.

Costa Rica: This year this country signed up on to the OECD-sponsored and G-20 endorsed Multilateral Agreement on Tax Information Exchange and even though the conclusion reached in its Phase I assessment this year was that it did not have the required legal framework in place to move to Phase II, its adoption of the OECD Agreement means it might not make the cut.

Brunei: A top contender for a berth as the OECD Global Forum concluded that its Phase I Assessment was unsatisfactory; and it was included in the G20 2011 blacklist.

Trinidad & Tobago: Listed in 2011 the country is still to satisfy the Phase I Assessment criteria but its 2012 inclusion may not be a foregone conclusion as the recently concluded CARICOM-Mexico G-20 dialogue may yet offer a respite.

Antigua & Barbuda: Another participant in the CARICOM-Mexico G-20 dialogue and named in the 2011 list, this country has 20 TIEAs and the  scheduled Supplemental Review of Phase I Assessment in March this year might mitigate against the country getting the ‘nod’ in 2012.

Botswana: A very good chance of being included as it has only 11 agreements enabling exchange of tax information according to globally accepted standards which requires at least 12; and the country was also in the 2011 list.

Uruguay: Has recently moved to the ‘substantially compliant’ category maintained by the OECD but as yet to move to Phase II Assessment.

Vanuatu: Has also recently graduated to the ‘substantially compliant’ OECD group but as was the case last year when it was listed by the G20 it has yet to move to a Phase II Assessment.

Seychelles: A 2011 ‘listee’ and yet to undergo a supplemental review of its Phase I Assessment Peer Review.

Liechtenstein: Listed in 2011 it received a conditional ‘pass’ to its Phase II Assessment due in the second half of 2012. It has however been listed 34 on the Financial Secrecy Index for 2011.

Postscript: Given the theme of ‘inclusiveness’ adopted by Mexico as 2012 G-20 Chair it is expected that the ineffective and arcane ‘name and shame’ approach to transparency and tax information exchange complance has been firmly put to bed.

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