The European Union has removed the United Arab Emirates from its tax haven blacklist. This means that offshore firms registered in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi will no longer be viewed as suspicious in terms of money laundering. However, Bahrain continues to be on the blacklist.
The UAE has been struck off the list after the authorities agreed to meet tax requirements within the next two years. The specific terms agreed for allowing the exemption have not been revealed.
The UAE is among eight jurisdictions, including Panama, that have been removed from the EU blacklist, which was adopted in December 2017 in the wake of the discolosures in the infamous Panama Papers. The other countries removed include Barbados, Grenada, Macao, Mongolia, Panama, South Korea and Tunisia. Now only nine countries, including Bahrain, now remain on the list. There were originally 47 countries on this list.
While some of these countries were first included on the list because they were slow to react to the demands of the EU, others – such as Panama and Barbados – have featured prominently in recent investigations by International Consortium of Investigating Journalists (ICIJ).
The EU blacklist was drawn up on the basis of each of these countries’ level of tax transparency, fair tax rules and commitment to implementing OECD’s measures to curtail tax optimisation.
There have, however, been voices of protest for diluting the blacklist. “The EU is rushing to take countries off the blacklist without it being clear what they have actually committed to improve; this is further undermining the process,” Aurore Chardonnet, Oxfam’s EU Policy Advisor on tax and inequality, has been quoted as saying by ICIJ.
The EU commissioner for tax, Pierre Moscovici, has previously told ICIJ that the development of the lists was far from perfect.
“There is some shyness in the list,” he told ICIJ. “There were some – I wouldn’t say diplomatic compromises, but certainly some countries’ commitments were taken at face value.”
Jurisdictions that still remain on the blacklist are American Samoa, Bahrain, Guam, the Marshall Islands, Namibia, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa, and Trinidad and Tobago.