Samoa wants more time over tax blacklist
Negotiations are underway between the Government of Samoa and the European Union (E.U.) over the country’s continued blacklisting as a tax haven, the Government says.
A November update from the European Commission listed Samoa and eight other nations as "non-cooperative" jurisdictions on policies relating to to tax transparency and profit "shifting".
But the Government says it is holding dialogue with the E.U. on the issue.
“[There was] a recent Forum with world leaders in the Pacific, Prime Minister (Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi) and there was a request to give us time to address the issues," said the Finance Minister, Sili Epa Tuioti.
"But the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that monitors such jurisdictions for us, we are in compliance with their policies."
Sili spoke after a Member of Parliament, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, raised the issue noting concerns remained about Samoa being blacklisted and what should be done about it.
Late last year the Marshall Islands was removed from that list, which still includes nine other jurisdictions - mostly Pacific islands with few financial relations with the EU.
Other countries on the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions are, American Samoa, Belize, Fiji, Guam, Oman, Trinidad and Tobago, US Virgin Islands and Vanuatu.
Sili admitted to complications over Samoa being blacklisted but said that the E.U. had not been clear about the process required for its tax policies to change.
“That’s why we requested [for them] to give us time to look into this matter,” he said.
The Official Journal of the E.U. says that Samoa has a "harmful preferential tax regime" and did not commit to addressing issues with its taxation regime.
In a letter from the Samoa Embassy in Brussels dated 23 November 2017, Samoa promised to commit to tackling the taxation-related issues of "base erosion and profit shifting" (B.E.P.S.) by the end of 2017.
The letter was sent to the General Secretariat of the Council and Chairman of the Code of Conduct Group (C.O.C.G.), Fabrizia Lapercorella.
"Samoa is willing to commit to the implementation of anti-B.E.P.S. measures and will work towards fulfilment of the initial criterion and committing to the agreed B.E.P.S. minimum standards and implementations by the end of 2017," the letter read.
But laws were never changed and a source from the European Commission told the Samoa Observer last year.
The E.U. anti-money laundering blacklist was initially released in February this year and named Samoa among 23 countries that had deficient anti-money laundering controls, in addition to its remaining on the blacklist.