Belgium says ready to exit tax watch list

17th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

Belgium's finance ministry said Thursday that it was ready to come off a so-called "grey list" of tax havens after signing a series of agreements on exchanging tax information.

BRUSSELS - "Our country can therefore come off the 'grey list' published on April 2 by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development)," the ministry said in a statement.

It said that agreements had been inked Thursday with Luxembourg, Singapore and the Isle of Man, completing a series of 12 accords required for removal from the list.

The other nine countries and territories were Australia, Britain, Denmark, France, Monaco, the Netherlands, Saint Marin, the Seychelles, and the United States.

Belgium should now join its neighbour Luxembourg, which was taken off the list on July 8 after signing similar accords.

The grey list contains the names of countries that have pledged to accept international tax reporting standards but have not yet fully implemented them.

The tax haven issue has become a hot topic as many countries press for a wider regulatory crackdown to curb abuses they believe played a role in bringing about the worst global slump since the 1930s.

Transparency International France last year estimated about 10 trillion dollars -- four times France's gross domestic product -- were stashed in secret offshore accounts away from the eyes of regulators or tax inspectors.


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