(Adds OECD and Swiss officials)
By Tom Bergin
LONDON Nov 22 Luxembourg, Cyprus, the British
Virgin Islands, Switzerland and the Seychelles do not meet
international standards on tax transparency, potentially putting
investments in the countries at risk, a global tax forum said on
The five either failed to share taxpayer information with
other countries or to gather information on beneficial ownership
of corporate entities registered on their territory, or both,
said the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of
Information for Tax Purposes.
Pascal Saint-Amans, director of tax policy at the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),
which oversees the forum, said big international companies,
banks and agencies may now think twice about investing through
"It is a question of reputation... There will be pressure on
companies to explain why they are doing business in
jurisdictions which are not clean from a Global Forum
perspective," he said.
The Group of 20 leading economies, which has asked the OECD
to lead efforts on curbing international tax evasion and
avoidance, has said it wants to put pressure on "non-cooperative
Luxembourg, which EU sources said is under investigation by
the European Commission for tax deals it has cut with major
multinationals, said it considered the rating to be "excessively
It said in a statement that a "very limited number" of its
responses to requests for information had been considered to be
The Financial Secretary of the British Virgin Islands, Neil
Smith, said the rating did not accurately reflect the current
practices in the BVI since 2012.
"Unfortunately this classification misses the mark. It does
not give an accurate reflection of the standards of tax
information sharing found in the BVI," he said.
Cyprus and Seychelles government representatives did not
respond to emailed requests for comment.
Earlier this year, German politicians demanded improved
transparency in Cyprus's banking sector, long seen as having
weak controls against money laundering, as a condition for
providing bailout funds.
Luxembourg, Cyprus, the Seychelles and the BVI failed the
test because the legislative structures they put in place did
not function well enough, Saint-Amans said
Switzerland failed because it did not have the required
legislation facilitating tax co-operation in place.
Mario Tuor, spokesman for the Swiss State Secretariat for
International Finance, said Switzerland hoped to have the
required legislation in place shortly and to be in a position to
be deemed compliant with the international standards next year.
(Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels, editing
by Mark Trevelyan)