Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi yesterday said he already told the country to expect that it would be placed on the latest European Union (EU) report as a, “non-cooperative jurisdiction for tax purposes.”
Al-Rawi said he would refer all questions about the country’s latest international blacklisting to his media conference held on October 28, where he called the number of regulations to which TT needed to comply in order to satisfy the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes as, “FATCA on steroids.”
The EU’s finance ministers agreed yesterday on a list of countries they deemed tax havens. According to a release, TT’s appearance was because of its non-compliance rating from the Global Forum and because it had yet to sign and ratify an OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters. The EU also found that the country has a, “harmful preferential tax regime and did not commit to addressing these issues by December 31, 2018.”
Al-Rawi said the publication of the EU’s report is, “the culmination of the matter in the public domain already.” He added that government had given the assurances to the international bodies that it was committed to the timeline TT has initially submitted, under the People’s Partnership government. “The (then government) did nothing,” he said.
Tax professionals, who spoke to Newsday anonymously because they did not want their opinions associated with their employers, said it was, “very unfortunate” that the country wasn’t better prepared and this situation was “wholly avoidable.” Further delay to getting off this list could impact correspondent banking relationships, they said, so government needs to have a more proactive approach and get the legislative agenda in place.
“Of course, I’m concerned it has come to this. I’ve already said why. But I’ve also said we must forget the blame and do what is required,” al-Rawi said. Al-Rawi had said in October than he would be bringing to Parliament “in two weeks” legislation to deal with the Global Forum criteria. To date, he has not, according to the list of bills on the Parliament’s website.
“He was supposed to bring that months ago. Right after FATCA was passed in January he said this was the next major thing, and he hasn’t,” Opposition chief whip, David Lee told Newsday. The AG also said he would be brining draft legislation to deal with double taxation agreements, and further debate on Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters Bill.