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June 18, 2004

This country’s International Financial Services sector is said to be regaining its prominence on the Offshore Finance Market.
Word of this came from Director of the local International Financial Services Authority Louise Mitchell as she addressed local media Wednesday in Kingstown. {{more}} Mitchell sought to assure Vincentians that the sector has made a major recovery since St. Vincent and the Grenadines was delisted from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) infamous black list in 2002 and from the Financial Actions Talk Force (FATF) black list only last year.
At Wednesday’s briefing, Mitchell updated the media on the outcome of a meeting of the Global Forum on Taxation, which was held in Ottawa Canada, on 14 -15 October 2003. She said that the Global Forum had focused on the issue of a level playing field among OECD member countries. A more recent meeting of the Global Forum was held in Berlin on June 3 to 4 this year to discuss the report of a subgroup and the question of a level playing field.
The Financial Services director pointed out that the OECD report and other initiatives have always spoken of the mutual benefits to be derived from the sharing of tax information. She noted in that context that this country would not be the first out of the blocks to volunteer in the Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) which would place this country at risk.
She further pointed out that sharing of tax information is one way and there has not been any obvious indication of such benefits at present. The June meeting of the Global Forum was in Mitchell’s estimation a success. This, since the date for achieving the desired level playing field of 2006 and subsequently for the sharing of tax information which had originally been set for 2004 in the case of criminal tax information and 2006 for civil tax information had been removed with no alternative date put in place.
She further reported that the position adopted by the USA at the meeting was that the OECD couldn’t dictate tax policy to sovereign states but merely encourage a flow of information and transparency. The USA assert that the OECD should not be asked to request that countries remove country lists as there are determined by sovereign states in the same way they cannot dictate tax policy.
She explained the background to this entire issue, recalling that on February 26, 2002 this country and other identified so-called tax havens had signed commitment letters to the OECS to the principles of effective exchange of information in tax matters and transparency. It was a result of the signing that SVG was removed from the OECS blacklist.
The Director of the International Finance Authority also reported that the registration of International Banking Companies now stands at 72 percent, bringing with that an increase in revenue to the authority she heads. She said that the first new banking application had been submitted to the authority since this country was delisted from the FATA and OECD blacklists. She reported also that the mutual fund insurance had had two countries registered at the beginning of 2004.
Mitchell said that her Authority was maintaining its timely submissions of progress reports to the FATF three times per year, in keeping with the terms of agreement that led to this country being delisted.