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The OECD's Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes celebrated the end of the first phase of reviews of all countries at its annual meeting on November 2-4.
The Forum's phase one reviews, which it has now completed, look at the legal and regulatory framework for transparency and exchange of information in all territories. If a country has a satisfactory framework it progresses to phase two, under which a peer review will be undertaken of how information is exchanged by that territory in practice.
The OECD said: "The meeting marked the completion of the first round of the Forum's peer review process, with the release of 17 new reports assessing the level of compliance with the international standard for exchange of information on request (EOIR)."
These 17 reports included: a phase one report for Peru; phase two reports for Azerbaijan, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Lesotho, Marshall Islands, Morocco, Panama, and Romania; and a combined report was released for Bulgaria. Supplementary reports covering phase one were released for Lebanon, Nauru, and Vanuatu, and supplementary phase two reports were released for Barbados and Israel.
Many jurisdictions that received less-than-satisfactory ratings announced that they had already taken or were taking steps to address recommendations made in the review process. Marshall Islands agreed to its report but highlighted recent progress made. Panama reminded the group of recent significant action taken, both in terms of amending legislation, reorganizing its competent authority, and signing the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters on October 28, 2016. Trinidad and Tobago also informed the members of their intention to address outstanding issues at the earliest.
A special fast-track review procedure was agreed at the meeting to enable Global Forum to recognize, by mid-2017, progress made and to assess changes being made in various jurisdictions.
A second round of peer reviews now underway will include an assessment of the availability of and access by tax authorities to beneficial ownership information of all legal entities and arrangements, the OECD confirmed.
Global Forum members took stock of the tremendous progress being made in the implementation of the standard for automatic exchange of information (AEOI), with 97 percent of jurisdictions committed to exchanging information in 2017 ready for these exchanges. They noted progress and some challenges for jurisdictions committed to launching exchanges in 2018, and agreed to implement tighter monitoring of the delivery of key milestones as well as providing support for implementation. Governance arrangements for a Common Transmission System for exchanging data were also agreed.
Against a backdrop of calls for preparation of lists of non-cooperative jurisdictions, a constructive discussion was held to ensure that all converge around the Global Forum's transparency standards in their respective transparency initiatives, the OECD said.
In the margins of the Global Forum meeting, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay took an important step towards implementing automatic exchange of financial account information in 2018 by signing the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement.
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