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Bermuda added to EU tax haven blacklist

Key meeting: the Europa Building in Brussels where EU finance ministers today agreed to add Bermuda to its tax haven blacklist

It’s official: Bermuda has been added to the European Union’s tax haven blacklist.

At a meeting in Brussels this morning, EU finance ministers agreed to adopt an expanded list, which includes the island.

Ten jurisdictions were added to the list. They are: Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu and Dominica.

The meeting’s chairman Eugen Teodorovici, the Romanian finance minister, had earlier told reporters that differences of opinion meant adoption of the expanded list would probably be delayed until May.

However, later Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister said he wanted no delays.

“France wants the list to be adopted today,” he told reporters.

Pierre Moscovici, the EU tax commissioner, also arrived at the meeting saying that a new list would be adopted.

Adoption of the list required the agreement of all 28 member countries. Reuters reported that a meeting of EU ambassadors last Friday, Britain agreed to drop its initial objections to Bermuda’s inclusion after the European Commission argued that the island had been “playing games” and had failed to meet deadlines to makes changes to economic substance legislation.

Asked by a reporter before the meeting whether he thought the blacklist would be approved today, Mr Teodorovici said: “To be very honest with you, I don’t think so, because the EU must take into account all the requests from different states — even yesterday we were receiving requests.

“To be very fair we have to assess all the information we receive and then to take a decision. I think it’s the right approach.”

A European diplomat told Reuters this morning that Romania’s position surprised officials as there was no more reason for a delay because reluctant countries had been convinced to lift their veto.

The blacklist adds ten jurisdictions to the five that were already on it: Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, and the three US territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands.

Jurisdictions are added to the list if their tax rules enable tax evasion in other states. They are removed if they commit to reforms.

The direct repercussions of the blacklisting were not clear. Blacklisted jurisdictions face stricter controls on transactions with the EU, although no sanctions have yet been agreed by EU states.