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14 Feb, 2022 08:21

EU to add Russia to tax haven ‘grey list’ – reports

The bloc has expressed dissatisfaction with so-called “Russian offshore” regions
EU to add Russia to tax haven ‘grey list’ – reports

The EU is expected to add Russia to its “grey list” of alleged tax havens, which includes nations deemed “non-cooperative” on tax reform, although it will stop short of adding it to its “black list” of worst offenders, according to reports this week.

Brussels news outlet EUobserver wrote on Wednesday that a draft version of the grey list, which will be adopted February 24, showed that Russia will be added alongside several other countries and territories, including Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, and Israel. In total, the list will grow from 15 to 25 jurisdictions. The black list is not expected to change.

“If the [new] grey-listing... is confirmed, we will see some real tax-havens finally at risk to be blacklisted,” Chiara Putaturo, of anti-poverty movement Oxfam, told EUobserver, explaining that the additions to the list were due to a modification in EU criteria. “However, there are still other tax havens that are left off the hook... such as the Cayman Islands, because the criteria remain weak,” she went on.

Vedomosti reported on Thursday that anonymous sources in the Russian government had confided that the administration was looking into the consequences of being put on the grey list, which is made up of jurisdictions the EU considers “non-cooperative.” 

In June of last year, the EU announced that it considered Russia’s special administrative regions, sometimes called “Russian offshores,” to be “harmful tax regimes,” and said that the country must require companies to open offices with workers upon moving to the regions, as well as open them to Russian holdings, by the end of 2022.

The Ministry of Finance stated that it agreed with the first of those requirements, and that it was looking into how to open the special administrative regions to Russian companies.

Last October, the EU removed Anguilla, Dominica, and the Seychelles from its tax haven blacklist, saying that while they “do not yet comply with all international tax standards,” they “have committed to implementing tax good-governance principles.” Activists criticized the move, and said that the release of the Pandora papers, which exposed the secret offshore accounts of 35 world leaders, as well as over 100 billionaires and celebrities, had shown that tax evasion is still a widespread international issue.