UWI supports region’s protests against inclusion on tax haven blacklist

Sir Hilary Beckles

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The University of the West Indies (UWI) is backing Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments in protesting the European Union’s (EU) recent blacklisting of regional countries it considers tax haven.

In a statement issue last week, Vice-Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles said the UWI “stands with the governments of the Caribbean in protesting the recent actions by the EU and calling for a more transparent and equitable regulatory system and joins the call for the EU to enter into a process to resolve the issue”.

“To this end, The University of the West Indies will continue to put its expertise and research capacity at the service of governments, the private sector and regional organizations to craft appropriate policy responses,” he said.

On December 5, the EU named Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago among 17 countries it considers tax havens. It said those nations were not doing enough to deal with offshore avoidance schemes.

Sir Hilary warned the unilateral move stood to have a deleterious effect on these economies, while accusing the EU of singlehandedly “derailing” and “undermining” the global financial system.

“This latest decision by the EU is based on new, unilaterally-determined and unclear criteria that differ significantly from the currently accepted international standards of tax transparency, anti-money laundering and accountability. These universally accepted standards were established by the Financial Action Task Force and the OECD Global Forum and demanded by the very EU.

“CARICOM countries have met or exceeded these accepted international standards and best practices over many years and demonstrated a long-standing, unwavering commitment to adhere to them. The unilateral EU blacklisting is de facto a derailing of these standards and undermine the entire process of accountability and fairness in financial matters carefully constructed by the world community,” he said.

“The unfavourable and unfair categorization of certain CARICOM countries is likely to result in reputational damage, encouragement of “de-risking” including the withdrawal of correspondent banking services and the imposition of costs in the adjustment to new onerous regulatory requirements.”

Sir Hilary added that, whether intentional or accidental, the action is tantamount to creating a competitive advantage for offshore financial centres operating within the national jurisdiction of European Union member states.