Latvia follows Poland, de-blacklists Bermuda

Latvia has become the second European state to remove Bermuda from its blacklist of uncooperative tax jurisdictions. In June, the European Commission (EC) published a list of 30 uncooperative tax jurisdictions, with a so-called master blacklist comprising of countries that were targeted by 10 or more EU member states.

Bermuda was included in that list, and reacted furiously to its inclusion, describing the move as “unjustified and baseless”.

Bob Richards, Bermuda’s finance minister, also alleged that five out of the 11 countries that had blacklisted Bermuda had failed to fulfil their obligations to consummate a tax information exchange.

Now, following Poland’s example, Latvia has become the second EU member state to remove Bermuda from its blacklist of uncooperative tax jurisdictions.

“I am grateful that Latvia and Poland have acted quickly to correct the mistake and we hope other countries will follow suit,” Richards said in a statement.

“As I have indicated before, considering Bermuda’s outstanding record of signing agreements with a large number of countries, it is extraordinary that we would be labelled by the EC as uncooperative.”

The finance minister said that now less than 10 countries were targeting Bermuda, the country should be removed from the EC blacklist with immediate effect.

“There was some indication that the list might be revised by the end of the year,” Richards said. “But we see no reason why an administrative decision in our favour couldn’t be made immediately. We have consistently done the right thing.

“Bermuda has signed tax information exchange agreements with countries around the world together with a multilateral tax convention, adding up to over 80 treaty partners.

“This is today’s international standard for tax cooperation and information exchange.”

Unlike many EU member states, the UK government does not blacklist jurisdictions; the Treasury explained that proportionate action was needed to tackle tax avoidance and evasion.

A spokesperson said, “We want to see action at EU level that is proportionate and effective. The UK government was not involved in, nor informed in advance of the details of the Commission’s compilation of the so-called blacklists maintained by some individual member states.

“The list takes no account of the significant steps taken by the UK’s overseas territories and crown dependencies as regards tax transparency, including the lead they have shown through their commitment to early adoption of the new global standard on automatic exchange of tax information.”

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