Two senior Guernsey government officials have strongly contested the offshore jurisdiction's placement on the European tax blacklist.
Action by the European Commission to put a raft of offshore financial centres on an "uncooperative" blacklist drew criticisms from some of the affected financial centres late last week as they raised questions about the EU's methodology.
Guernsey’s chief minister, deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, expressed his “disappointment and surprise” that the island has been included on a new European Commission list of 30 “non-cooperative” non-EU jurisdictions. In a separate statement (see below), Bermuda criticised the way the EU decided to put jurisdictions on the list.
In its commentary, Guernsey Finance said that the Commission's list comprises national tax "blacklists", including any jurisdiction on 10 or more EU member states’ lists. Guernsey's commerce and employment minister, deputy Kevin Stewart, said the list was “very odd indeed” given that they had informed the Commission that Guernsey is only on nine lists, as are the Isle of Man and Gibraltar.
Le Tocq said he had written to commissioner Moscovici today to express Guernsey’s disappointment and surprise and to ask to have Guernsey removed from it as soon as possible.
“It is this type of arbitrary and inconsistent use of ‘blacklists’ that international standards are supposed to be replacing, so this seems to me to run counter to what the Commission itself is trying to do on tax transparency. It also runs counter to commissioner Moscovici’s own positive views on Guernsey, which we discussed just over a month ago,” he said in a statement.
“The fact remains that we lead a number of EU member states on tax transparency and cooperation, and we will be partners of the EU in the automatic exchange of information under the Common Reporting Standard.”
Guernsey Finance, the promotional agency for the offshore jurisdiction’s finance industry internationally, said in the statement that important factors had been overlooked in Guernsey's inclusion. It highlighted that Guernsey had voluntarily adopted the EU Savings Directive and moved to automatic exchange of information back in 2011, and that it had also adhered to the code of conduct on business taxation.