Montserrat not ‘blacklisted’ in OECD CBI/RBI report

On Tuesday, October 16, 2018, The Guardian in the UK carried a story captioned “Tax: Evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with ‘golden passport’ schemes published”.

The article says: “A blacklist of 21 countries whose so-called “golden passport” schemes threaten international efforts to combat tax evasion has been published by the west’s leading economic thinktank.

“Three European countries – Malta, Monaco and Cyprus – are among those nations flagged as operating high-risk schemes that sell either residency or citizenship in a (report released on Tuesday – http://www.oecd.org/tax/automatic-exchange/crs-implementation-and-assistance/residence-citizenship-by-investment/ ) by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“The Paris-based body has raised the alarm about the fast-expanding US$3bn (£2.3bn) citizenship by investment industry, which has turned nationality into a marketable commodity. In exchange for donations to a sovereign trust fund, or investments in property or government bonds, foreign nationals can become citizens of countries in which they have never lived. Other schemes, such as that operated by the UK, offer residency in exchange for sizable investments…

“Also, on the OECD blacklist are a handful of Caribbean nations that pioneered the modern-day methods for the marketing of citizenship. These include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis, which has sold 16,000 passports since relaunching its programme in 2006.”

Montserrat is not mentioned above, but the report said, without mentioning anything about ‘blacklisting’: “Financial Institutions are required to take the outcome of the OECD’s analysis of high-risk CBI/RBI schemes into account when performing their CRS due diligence obligations. (Further detail is available in our Frequently Asked Questions section below).

“The OECD has analysed over 100 CBI/RBI schemes, offered by CRS-committed jurisdictions, identifying the following schemes that potentially pose a high-risk to the integrity of CRS.”

On reading the report it will not surprise if Montserrat is removed from the list that appeared even at the suggestion of being ‘high risk’.

However, in a news report which noted, Montserrat has on its books laws for an Economic Residency Program (ERP), it was against this background that a local economic and financial analyst Peter Queeley was asked why he thinks the island has to be named on this blacklist.”

 

Queeley responded, not realizing perhaps that Montserrat was not blacklisted ‘for such’, except for the Guardian’s misguided report, showed some understanding of the topic, said in part: “Montserrat and the other countries that offer the economic citizenship and economic residency programs is that their programs now have been elevated too what they call a high-risk status,” going on to say however, “essentially these programs are now under attack…and these programs now which would have provided sizable income to those countries in terms of raw cash… now are now under scrutiny and under attack…and those persons who are engaging in purchasing economic citizenship and economic residency you are actually you now attacking the actual business fabric of the whole programs.”

He said further, referring specifically to Montserrat, “I would call this in no uncertain terms terrorism because it threatens the fabric of our society and our economic growth…” going on to speak to the history of the attitude towards the Caribbean: “It’s not for the first time we are seeing these things. If you go way back you would have seen that when we were doing sugar and we were into bananas in particular you had he whole preferential treatment access thing which came up pushed by the U.S. of course and once our profession access in the UK markets were taken away…”

Meanwhile however, while noticing the only OTs listed were Montserrat and Turks and Caicos Islands, there were vehement denials by Bahamas and Barbados, that the report did not, as reported by The Guardian, show them as being blacklisted.

The Oct 17, CMC report coming out of NASSAU, Bahamas, stated: “This report is false and misleading,” the Ministry of Finance said, noting that the OECD Tuesday published a report that includes a list of jurisdictions around the world, including The Bahamas, which operate Citizenship by Investment (CBI) or Residence by Investment (RBI) programmes.

The government insists that “this report is not a blacklist” and added that representatives of the Ministry of Finance, who are currently attending meetings in Paris, met with the Head of the OECD International Cooperation and Tax Administration Division, which published the report.

“The Ministry was assured that the characterization of the list as a blacklist is completely inaccurate. The Bahamas is under no obligation to take any measures to change its investment schemes.“

Coming also from BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 17, CMC – “The Barbados government Wednesday said it has never had a Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) as Bridgetown responded to a statement issued by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) linking several Caribbean countries to the initiative.

“At the outset, it must be emphasized that Barbados has never had, and does not have, a citizenship by investment programme.”

The report continues: “However, among several other countries, Barbados High Net Worth Individual (HNWI) Special Entry Permit (SEP) regime was identified as one which poses a high-risk to the integrity of the CRS. This is not a “blacklist”, although some media establishments have chosen to headline their articles on the issue as such,” Toppin said.

“He said that the government, which came to power in May this year “forcefully rejects any and all such news reports which state that Barbados has been blacklisted by the OECD.

“These reports are false and erroneous, but can, unfortunately, have deleterious effects on our reputation.

“The OECD report simply provides practical guidance to financial institutions on how to undertake enhanced due diligence on clients that are citizens or residents of the countries with Citizenship By Investment (CBI) or Residence By Investment (RBI) programmes so as to prevent cases of Common Reporting Standard (CRS) avoidance and tax evasion,” Toppin noted.

In the end, Commissioner of Montserrat’s Financial Services Commission commenting on the report said, she did not see any complication in the issue and while she would not expect to see a listing in these connections, do look forward to the removal of Montserrat from the ‘high risk’ register.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

On Tuesday, October 16, 2018, The Guardian in the UK carried a story captioned “Tax: Evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with ‘golden passport’ schemes published”.

The article says: “A blacklist of 21 countries whose so-called “golden passport” schemes threaten international efforts to combat tax evasion has been published by the west’s leading economic thinktank.

“Three European countries – Malta, Monaco and Cyprus – are among those nations flagged as operating high-risk schemes that sell either residency or citizenship in a (report released on Tuesday – http://www.oecd.org/tax/automatic-exchange/crs-implementation-and-assistance/residence-citizenship-by-investment/ ) by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

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“The Paris-based body has raised the alarm about the fast-expanding US$3bn (£2.3bn) citizenship by investment industry, which has turned nationality into a marketable commodity. In exchange for donations to a sovereign trust fund, or investments in property or government bonds, foreign nationals can become citizens of countries in which they have never lived. Other schemes, such as that operated by the UK, offer residency in exchange for sizable investments…

“Also, on the OECD blacklist are a handful of Caribbean nations that pioneered the modern-day methods for the marketing of citizenship. These include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis, which has sold 16,000 passports since relaunching its programme in 2006.”

Montserrat is not mentioned above, but the report said, without mentioning anything about ‘blacklisting’: “Financial Institutions are required to take the outcome of the OECD’s analysis of high-risk CBI/RBI schemes into account when performing their CRS due diligence obligations. (Further detail is available in our Frequently Asked Questions section below).

“The OECD has analysed over 100 CBI/RBI schemes, offered by CRS-committed jurisdictions, identifying the following schemes that potentially pose a high-risk to the integrity of CRS.”

On reading the report it will not surprise if Montserrat is removed from the list that appeared even at the suggestion of being ‘high risk’.

However, in a news report which noted, Montserrat has on its books laws for an Economic Residency Program (ERP), it was against this background that a local economic and financial analyst Peter Queeley was asked why he thinks the island has to be named on this blacklist.”

 

Queeley responded, not realizing perhaps that Montserrat was not blacklisted ‘for such’, except for the Guardian’s misguided report, showed some understanding of the topic, said in part: “Montserrat and the other countries that offer the economic citizenship and economic residency programs is that their programs now have been elevated too what they call a high-risk status,” going on to say however, “essentially these programs are now under attack…and these programs now which would have provided sizable income to those countries in terms of raw cash… now are now under scrutiny and under attack…and those persons who are engaging in purchasing economic citizenship and economic residency you are actually you now attacking the actual business fabric of the whole programs.”

He said further, referring specifically to Montserrat, “I would call this in no uncertain terms terrorism because it threatens the fabric of our society and our economic growth…” going on to speak to the history of the attitude towards the Caribbean: “It’s not for the first time we are seeing these things. If you go way back you would have seen that when we were doing sugar and we were into bananas in particular you had he whole preferential treatment access thing which came up pushed by the U.S. of course and once our profession access in the UK markets were taken away…”

Meanwhile however, while noticing the only OTs listed were Montserrat and Turks and Caicos Islands, there were vehement denials by Bahamas and Barbados, that the report did not, as reported by The Guardian, show them as being blacklisted.

The Oct 17, CMC report coming out of NASSAU, Bahamas, stated: “This report is false and misleading,” the Ministry of Finance said, noting that the OECD Tuesday published a report that includes a list of jurisdictions around the world, including The Bahamas, which operate Citizenship by Investment (CBI) or Residence by Investment (RBI) programmes.

The government insists that “this report is not a blacklist” and added that representatives of the Ministry of Finance, who are currently attending meetings in Paris, met with the Head of the OECD International Cooperation and Tax Administration Division, which published the report.

“The Ministry was assured that the characterization of the list as a blacklist is completely inaccurate. The Bahamas is under no obligation to take any measures to change its investment schemes.“

Coming also from BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 17, CMC – “The Barbados government Wednesday said it has never had a Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) as Bridgetown responded to a statement issued by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) linking several Caribbean countries to the initiative.

“At the outset, it must be emphasized that Barbados has never had, and does not have, a citizenship by investment programme.”

The report continues: “However, among several other countries, Barbados High Net Worth Individual (HNWI) Special Entry Permit (SEP) regime was identified as one which poses a high-risk to the integrity of the CRS. This is not a “blacklist”, although some media establishments have chosen to headline their articles on the issue as such,” Toppin said.

“He said that the government, which came to power in May this year “forcefully rejects any and all such news reports which state that Barbados has been blacklisted by the OECD.

“These reports are false and erroneous, but can, unfortunately, have deleterious effects on our reputation.

“The OECD report simply provides practical guidance to financial institutions on how to undertake enhanced due diligence on clients that are citizens or residents of the countries with Citizenship By Investment (CBI) or Residence By Investment (RBI) programmes so as to prevent cases of Common Reporting Standard (CRS) avoidance and tax evasion,” Toppin noted.

In the end, Commissioner of Montserrat’s Financial Services Commission commenting on the report said, she did not see any complication in the issue and while she would not expect to see a listing in these connections, do look forward to the removal of Montserrat from the ‘high risk’ register.