BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Union on Tuesday removed Anguilla, Dominica and Seychelles from its blacklist of tax havens amid criticism that the trade bloc is letting countries get away with it, especially in light of recent Pandora Papers revelations.

Anguilla, Dominica and Seychelles were included on the list because they did not meet the criteria for tax transparency. EU finance ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, approved a decision to move them to a “gray list” after the three agreed to overhaul their tax systems.

The EU blacklist was put in place in 2017 to tackle widespread tax evasion and is regularly updated. Nine “jurisdictions” remain listed as “non-cooperative”: American Samoa, Fiji, Guam, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, the US Virgin Islands and Vanuatu.

Anguilla, Dominica and Seychelles are now listed as places that do not yet meet all international tax standards but are committed to respecting the principles of good tax governance. Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Malaysia, North Macedonia, Qatar and Uruguay have also been added to this “gray list”. Australia, Eswantini and the Maldives were withdrawn after reforming their tax systems.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its media partners recently published a massive offshore data leak dubbed the “Pandora Papers”. The nearly 12 million file cache sheds light on the financial activities of many of the world’s elite.

French EU lawmaker Aurore Lalucq, who wrote a report on harmful tax practices, said she hopes the disclosures “will finally be a strong enough wake-up call for EU leaders” and the European Commission to reform any urgently the bloc’s code of conduct for corporate taxation.

Some of the world’s most notorious tax havens are not even listed by the EU, Lalucq said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the countries that remain on the blacklist do not represent the most important financial flows,” she said.

Chiara Putaturo, tax specialist for charity Oxfam, called the EU blacklist a “joke” and said it should “penalize tax havens.” Instead, it gets them off the hook. She alleged that Anguilla and the Seychelles “are at the heart of the latest tax scandal”.

“As the Pandora Papers investigation has blown the veil on how the super-rich continue to use tax havens to avoid paying their taxes, ordinary people are being urged to foot the bill for COVID recovery- 19 “, Putaturo said.


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