Whiter than white

June 19th, 2009

Britain’s offshore financial centres race for respectability

The Economist

BERMUDA, a British territory in the North Atlantic, proudly announced this month that it had made it on to the OECD’s white list of benign tax regimes. That puts it among the countries that have “substantially implemented” internationally agreed tax standards, as monitored by the OECD, a club of industrial nations. Since January 2007 a stampede of offshore tax havens, many of them British one way or another, have rushed to sign enough bilateral tax-information exchange agreements, known as TIEAs, to get on the white list. The arbitrary threshold is 12.

The Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) and the Isle of Man squeaked in before a meeting of G20 countries in London in April, where tax dodging was on the agenda. The Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands (BVI), with eight and ten TIEAs respectively, are still on the grey list. All have gone the Nordic route to get TIEAs in a hurry: wooing the Nordic block brings seven TIEAs at one blow, including tie-ups with the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

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