All’s Peachy in Singapore

November 13th, 2009

Today, Singapore signed its 12th Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA), and thus the jurisdiction is added to the OECD white list.  Well that takes care of it! No longer will Singapore be a place to hide money (read sarcasm).  Okay, I’m being harsh; to be fair, Singapore knows that it’s not fixed yet and will thus turn itself into a fully tax-compliant, transparent jurisdiction by today signing another TIEA with the financial powerhouse of Brunei (read more sarcasm).

In reality, Singapore – ranked 8th most secretive in the Financial Secrecy Index – still is and will continue to be (short of a dramatic shift) a top secrecy jurisdiction.  As noted many times on this blog, the OECD standard of information exchange will require little (if any) information to be disclosed from Singapore, and even if it did, Singapore would have to sign roughly 50 more TIEAs before it came into line with the average number of TIEAs signed by G20 nations.  A better standard would be automatic exchange of tax information.

Read the full OECD release below:

Singapore signs its 12th tax agreement meeting the OECD standard

Singapore has today signed a protocol with France that brings the two countries’ bilateral tax treaty into line with the OECD standard on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. This being the 12th agreement that it has signed in accordance with the OECD standard, Singapore moves into the category of jurisdictions deemed to have substantially implemented the standard.

Singapore is the 15th jurisdiction to have moved into the “substantially implemented” category since April 2009. It is expected shortly to sign further agreements conforming to the OECD standard, including one today with Brunei.

As part of its commitment to implementation of the OECD standard, Singapore has recently passed legislation to enable its authorities to exchange information, including bank and fiduciary information, with tax authorities in other countries.

Singapore’s legislation, like that of other countries, will be peer reviewed in the context of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes set up in September. Singapore is an active member of the Global Forum, being vice-chair of the Peer Review Group and member of the Steering Group.

Welcoming Singapore’s commitment to the OECD standard, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said that this marked a major step forward in international tax cooperation.

“Singapore is a key player in the global financial community,” Mr. Gurría said. “The fact that Singapore has removed the legislative impediments to its implementation of the international standard is very welcome and it confirms that there is a new global environment of tax cooperation. No jurisdiction can stand apart from this movement towards greater transparency for tax purposes.”

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Written by Clark Gascoigne

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