Page last updated at 22:04 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 23:04 UK

OECD names and shames tax havens

Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia is one of the four countries on the blacklist

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has published its blacklist of non-cooperative tax havens.

Costa Rica, Malaysia, and the Philippines are the countries listed as not having agreed to tax standards.

Uruguay had originally been listed too, but later protested that it had been wrongly included.

After listening to its arguments the OECD said it was happy the country had agreed to its tax transparency rules.

The list is part of efforts agreed at the G20 summit to clamp down on havens.

There is also a list of 38 places that have agreed to improve standards but not yet done so, such as Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Andorra and San Marino.

'Willing to co-operate'

On Thursday, G20 leaders agreed to take sanctions against tax havens using the OECD list as its basis.

In their communique, they agreed, "to take action against non-cooperative jurisdictions, including tax havens".

"We stand ready to deploy sanctions to protect our public finances and financial systems. The era of banking secrecy is over."

Uruguay had objected to its inclusion on the list, published earlier on Friday.

The South American country sent a letter to Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the OECD, from its finance minister Alvaro García.

He informed the OECD that Uruguay had formally endorsed the body's standards on transparency and exchange of information.

"I am pleased that Uruguay joins a growing number of nations willing to co-operate in fighting tax evasion and other tax abuses," said Mr Gurria.

Pressure

Angel Gurria, secretary general of the OECD, said that the G20 summit had helped to focus minds on the issue of tax havens.

There were frosty negotiations between France and China over the inclusion of Macau
Paul Mason, BBC Two Newsnight economics editor

"We've had more progress in the last two weeks on this matter than we've had in the last 10 or 12 years," he told the BBC.

He added that the progress had come despite the leaders not specifying what sanctions they would take.

"[Non-cooperating countries] will move because they know the question of sanctions, however ill-defined that was, is going to affect them somehow."

The Philippines is already reported to be taking steps to remove itself from the blacklist.

"The Philippine government would take the necessary steps to ensure we meet their expectations," Trade Secretary Peter Favila told the Associated Press news agency.

"It is really up to us to prove them wrong."

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that his country should not be on the blacklist at all.

"We should not be in that category as, in practice, we have been committed to OECD requirements," he said in a statement.



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