November 6, 2018 / 11:44 AM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-EU tax haven blacklist drops to five with removal of Namibia

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BRUSSELS, Nov 6 (Reuters) - European Union finance ministers removed Namibia from the bloc’s blacklist of tax havens on Tuesday after it committed itself to changing its tax rules and practices, the EU said.

The move brought the list down to five non-cooperative jurisdictions - Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago and the three United States’ territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands.

Namibia was on the blacklist because its tax regulations and practices were not deemed to be in line with EU standards. But after the African country committed to changes, EU ministers moved it to a so-called grey list of countries with low tax transparency standards but which are aiming to improve, the EU said.

The EU blacklist was set up last December after revelations of widespread tax avoidance schemes used by corporations and wealthy individuals to lower their tax bills. It originally included 17 jurisdictions.

Fair tax groups and EU lawmakers have criticised the rapid way the list has shrunk and say it also does not provide a complete picture of countries providing a jurisdiction for tax avoidance.

Blacklisted jurisdictions could face reputational damage and stricter controls on their financial transactions with the EU, although no sanctions have been agreed by member states yet.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Richard Balmforth

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