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Aimed at ending reputation as tax haven

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 6, 20087) – The Vanuatu Government will scrap its secretive company law provisions within months as part of a legal overhaul aimed at abolishing the Pacific nation’s reputation as an international tax haven.

The Vanuatu Financial Services Commission said the country would replace its company law secrecy provisions - which allow for the creation of companies with hidden owners and undisclosed cash deposits - by the end of the year.

The Australian reports the move follows the arrest last week of 58-year-old Vanuatu-based Australian businessman Robert Agius, who is accused of masterminding a 100 million US dollar offshore tax scam involving more than 400 people.

VFSC commissioner George Andrews, who declined to comment on any matters before the courts, said yesterday that under proposed new legislation, the Pacific nation would crack down on all Vanuatu businesses that provided foreigners with local tax-haven accounts.

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