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Caribbean Development Bank Chief Gets Last Word (This Year) On OECD

Lisa Ugur, Tax-news.com, London

28 December 2000


In a year dominated by the OECD and FATF initiatives on tax havens, it seems somehow inevitable that the end of the year 2000 should witness one more burst of indignation at the perceived attacks on the offshore world. Those nations "named and shamed" by the now infamous blacklists of summer 2000 have generally grown quieter and curbed their anger as the months have passed, but the president of the Caribbean Development Bank, Sir Neville Nicholls, is not about to let the wounds heal. Last week he accused the OECD of perpetrating "a bad joke" against the Caribbean by its "callous pressures" on the region's offshore financial sector.

In an interview with the Caribbean News Agency, Mr Nicholls said that the OECD and the FATF claim as their raison d'etre the eradication of money laundering, and yet the practice goes on in the wealthy, developed nations i.e on their own doorsteps. Mr Nicolls stated: 'Miami, for example, is well known as a major money-laundering centre of the world. What pressures are being exerted to deal with that and similar jurisdictions? This move against Caribbean offshore centres, therefore, has to be viewed as a bad joke'.

Moreover, said Mr Nicholls, the OECD's blacklisting of some Caribbean states as "harmful tax havens" was "simply ridiculous". He charged: 'What makes the competition harmful and to whom? All of the industrialized nations offer tax incentives of one sort or another. So why this assault on the Caribbean? It is a bogus argument by the OECD, which is conscious of their member countries losing business to other jurisdictions and want to stop it.'

The Caribbean News Agency said that Mr Nicolls' vociferous attack on the OECD's initative was his strongest yet. It seems to echo the views of many of the blacklisted nations, who were incensed when the OECD and FATF lists were published earlier this year.

Mr Nicolls said that whole crux of the OECD initiative was to undermine the Caribbean nations' efforts to diversify their economies and build up their provision of financial services. He said: 'It is most unfortunate that on top of falling prices on vital export commodities and declining trade preferences, there should be this calculated, deliberate and vicious assault by the OECD on the Caribbean's offshore financial sector. No government of this region is asking to be excused for engaging in illegal practices in the offshore financial sector. The Caribbean has made clear its opposition to money laundering and willingness to cooperate in stamping out malpractices where they occur. But when the OECD chooses to muscle in on small jurisdictions in this region and blacklist them as "uncooperative jurisdictions", it is in fact sending a dangerous message abroad about the reliability and credibility of the countries being named and shamed. This is unfair, it is vicious.'

Mr Nicolls is undoubtedly not alone in his views, although some jurisdictions have become more conciliatory with the passing months. For a full review of the above-mentioned initiatives, and others, see the Tax-news.com Review of 2000, 'The Multilaterals' Campaign Against Offshore in 2000', at http://www.tax-news.com/html/newswire/st_multi.html

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