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OECD Publishes Seven Country Reviews On Tax Transparency

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has published two new reports in its assessments of countries’ frameworks for facilitating the tackling of tax evasion through tax information exchange.

The reports from the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes are in respect of Aruba, the Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, Estonia, Germany and Ghana’s frameworks. The Global Forum, hosted by the OECD, has so far published reports on 25 of its members and will complete another 35 by November for the Cannes G20 Summit.

The Forum reported the following in respect of the countries Aruba, the Bahamas, Belgium, Estonia and Ghana’s Phase 1 Reviews:

Firstly in respect of Aruba, the Forum reported:

“The legal and regulatory framework for the exchange of information is in place in Aruba, but there are a number of areas where some improvement is needed. The report makes recommendations regarding the availability of information on limited partnerships, foundations and bearer shares issued by some companies, as well the need to bring the exchange of information agreements that have been signed over the past 2 years into force quickly. Aruba’s Phase 2 review is scheduled for the first half of 2014.”

On the Bahamas, the Forum said:

“Only one significant issue was discovered in the review of The Bahamas – a problem ensuring the availability of accounting information for all relevant entities and arrangements including international business companies, registered private and foreign-incorporated companies, authorised purpose trusts and foundations. Otherwise, all essential elements identified in the Global Forum’s Terms of Reference were found to be in place. The Bahamas’ Phase 2 review is scheduled for the second half of 2012.”

In respect of Belgium, the Forum reported:

“Belgium has made great strides in developing its exchange of information network. Though it has signed 41 information exchange agreements that meet the standard in the past two years, due to the political situation in Belgium only one of those agreements is in force. Belgium will undergo a Phase 2 peer review in the second half of 2012 provided that it ratifies a significant number of the treaties that comply with the standard.”

On Estonia’s legal and regulatory frameworks, the Forum stated:

“The peer review has identified some deficiencies in the domestic laws of Estonia due to restrictive conditions imposed by domestic law for obtaining bank information. In addition, there are a number of areas where some improvement is needed, including the availability of information on foreign companies and foundations, and its confidentiality provisions. The Phase 2 Peer Review of Estonia is scheduled for the first half of 2013.”

In the last Phase 1 review, on Ghana, the Forum said:

“Ghana has an adequate legal and regulatory framework for exchange of information for tax purposes. The report, however, identifies some areas were improvement is needed, in particular the availability of information on foreign companies, trusts, underlying documentation for accounting records, and the extent of Ghana’s exchange of information network. Some portion of Ghana’s framework for transparency and exchange of information is relatively new. Thus, the Phase 2 assessment scheduled for the second half of 2013 is particularly necessary in the case of Ghana.”

Combined reviews, in respect of Canada’s and Germany’s legal and regulatory framework and also the implementation of these framework in practice were also undertaken.

On Canada, the forum said:

“Canada has a long history of effective exchange through co-operative and well-developed relationships with partner jurisdictions. The elements for the effective exchange of information are in place with recommendations made to improve the availability of ownership information relating to bearer shares and nominees.”

Lastly, in its summary of the findings in respect of Germany, the Forum concluded:

“Germany exchanges information for international tax matters with a large network of jurisdictions across the globe, though could improve its response times. The review notes that elements for the effective exchange of information are in place and recommends improving the availability of ownership information relating to bearer shares and updating its treaty network to ensure that all agreements meet the standard.”