Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gibraltar reiterates tax transparency agreement offer with Spain

The Gibraltar Government yesterday issued a statement reiterating that it has offered Spain an agreement providing for exchange of information, transparency and co-operation in tax matters in the fight against money laundering and regulation of the financial system.

The Government statement reiterated that the offer to share tax information with Spain "is not new".

A spokesperson for the Chief Minister's Office at No 6 added that it was also not "difficult to reach such an agreement at this time", a statement in response to comments made earlier last week by Spanish PSOE MP, Salvador de la Encina. The Government spokesperson added that Sr de la Encina's comments were "erroneous".

Last week, Salvador de la Encina, a PSOE MP for Cadiz had declared that "it is not Spain but the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and other international bodies", who describe Gibraltar as a 'fiscal paradise' and includes it in its 'grey list'.

The OECD 'grey list' is a list of countries, 'jurisdictions that have committed to internationally agreed tax standards' but that have not yet substantially implemented these agreements.

Speaking to the Campo press, Sr de la Encina was responding to Gibraltar Chief Minister Peter Caruana’s recent appearance before the Foro de Cadiz, stating that Spain would be delighted if Gibraltar were to be removed from such a list.

Mr Caruana said that "if from now on there is a willingness to operate with total transparency toward the Spanish Treasury in financial and fiscal matters, and Gibraltar is able to be removed from the list, that would be extremely positive".

"Spain would be delighted with that, but Gibraltar has to convince these international organisations."

Mr Caruana reiterated his offer to Spain of "total (fiscal) transparency", through an agreement for the exchange of tax information, during a conference he gave at the Foro de Cadiz this week, in an attempt to encourage Madrid to cease to consider Gibraltar a tax haven.

However Sr de la Encina declared that the Gibraltar Government should back these statements by implementing effective measures aimed at achieving greater transparency to be removed from the grey list and cease to be considered a tax haven.

The Gibraltar Government statement yesterday added that Sr de la Encina "appears not to be aware" that this was offered by Gibraltar in the run-up to the July 2008 Ministerial meeting of the Trilateral Forum in London. The offer was also included and agreed to, in the Joint Communiqué of that meeting issued by the Foreign Ministers of the UK and Spain, and Gibraltar's Chief Minister. Accordingly, the Governmnt statement added, neither the UK, nor Spain or Gibraltar "considers it difficult at this time".

The Government also said that Sr de la Encina’s statement, commenting on who is responsible for securing the removal of Gibraltar from the list of tax haven, was "also erroneous".

"Contrary to his statement, Gibraltar has not asked Spain to remove Gibraltar from any international list.

Gibraltar has offered Spain an agreement so that Spain is able to stop considering Gibraltar to be a tax haven under Spain’s own national legislation, which stipulates a clear and specific criteria for the removal of countries and territories from its own list of tax havens."

The Gibraltar Government statement concluded:

"No one in Gibraltar or elsewhere will understand any reluctance on the part of anyone in Spain to enter into an agreement of this type which delivers what Spain has criticised and demanded of Gibraltar over so many years."

As I've said before... it's a mystery to me too... but... no doubt they (Spanish politicians) will continue... ad nauseaum... to bang on about it for ever!

The question is... why does Spain continue to avoid the issue and continues to refuse to enter into a tax transparency agreement with Gibraltar?

One answer might be because it would obviously immediately take away a favourite stick of theirs. A cosh that many of their politicians, such as 'Blanca Luz'... or indeed many of their ill informed citizens... jumped up 'n'er do wells' such as 'Don Quixote de Marichalar' for instance, constantly enjoy bashing Gibraltar with at every and any opportunity!

Of course... then there's another possibility... one more Machiavellian reason why they do not want to enter into a tax transparent agreement with Gibraltar. Could it be... that they worry about what might show up... from their own inner circles? Could it be... that they don't want to kill their very own goose that's laying so many golden eggs for so many of them?? rolleyes