Friday, 20 March 2009

Luxembourg as a Tax Haven

An interesting stance in the news (see below) by Luxembourg, which clearly sees that any directive against British tax havens could well rebound on Luxembourg, Austria and Belgium. Of course in the past,  EU countries such as these could hammer on at offshore centres, while preserving their own bank secrecy laws, as long as it was the EU being critical of external tax havens, and against "harmful tax regimes". But the G20 will involve the USA, which is certainly not going to be worried about turning the spotlight on these countries, although of course it has its very own blind spot in respect of Delaware. It looks as if "level playing field" may be forced upon these regimes, despite the way in which - as with Luxembourg's prime minister - they bluster about evil tax havens to distract attention from themselves.

Luxembourg has been criticising what it calls the Isle of Man's banking secrecy regime. Although Luxembourg's banks are more secretive than the Island's, the country's prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker said he would be demanding action on British tax havens at a meeting of EU leaders today.  He has also accused France and Germany of "arrogance" as they try to force banking reforms in small jurisdictions.

BRUSSELS, March 19 (Reuters) - Luxembourg urged Germany on Thursday to tone down its rhetoric in a row over how best to fight tax evasion. German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck, already under fire in Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland for repeated calls to crack down on tax havens, caused outrage last week when he compared the Swiss to "Indians" running scared from the cavalry. "We should come back to a tone that's not dictated by a country's size," Luxembourg's Treasury and Budget Minister Luc Frieden told reporters at a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week she was optimistic tax havens would cooperate if the G20 threatened to blacklist them. But Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Brussels he was against any EU country being put on such a blacklist and said such a list was not needed. Juncker said Berlin should not try to take credit for the announcement by Luxembourg, Switzerland and Austria last week that they were ready to share information on foreign savers on a case-by-case basis.

BRUSSELS: Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday at a European summit he had received assurances that no EU country will figure on an international blacklist of tax havens.  French President "Nicolas Sarkozy and (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel let it be known that France and Germany would not agree to Luxembourg, Austria or Belgium being put on a tax haven list," Juncker told journalists.  "Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg will not figure on the list," he added.  The three countries recently said that they would ease their banking secrecy rules to avoid being put on the international blacklist.

No comments: