VANUATU BOWS TO INTERNATIONAL TRANSPARENCY DEMANDS

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Port Vila Presse, April 6) - Vanuatu's
Council of Ministers, after intense pressure, has agreed to commit to the
international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Harmful Tax Competition Initiative.

The action follows the visit of a representative from OECD for
discussions about Vanuatu's international finance center business.

The Paris-headquartered OECD, a group of 30 of the world's
richest nations, earlier said sanctions may be imposed on non-compliant
countries this month.

Pressure to comply has grown amidst increasing international
concern over money laundering and its links to terrorism.

Vanuatu had been among international finance and offshore tax
centers resisting demands to agree to OECD's requirements on transparency and
exchange of information.

Vanuatu had pointed out that some wealthy OECD members had not
committed to the standards being demanded of less wealthy non-OECD developing
countries.

Last year Vanuatu Chartered Accountants Association chairperson
Mark Stafford accused the OECD of threatening to wreck the economies of small
developing finance centers.

It was doing this without providing viable alternatives, he
said.

"We definitely are transparent but the OECD doesn't use a
level playing field," Stafford told the AFP news agency adding: "Our
regulatory systems are excellent and money-laundering and anti-terrorism
initiatives second to none."

Stafford dismissed allegations that funds from the Russian mafia
are laundered through the Vanuatu finance center.

"It's only now we are threatening the business of bigger
countries we are being told to lay off," he told AFP.

The Council of Ministers has authorized Minister of Finance Sela
Molisa to send a letter of commitment to OECD, which includes requests to OECD
that:

April 7, 2003

Pacific Islands News Organization: http://www.ifex.org/espanol/members/pina 

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