PARIS, March 26 (Reuters) - Monaco has joined financial centres including Switzerland and Luxembourg in agreeing to share information with European Union authorities to fight tax evasion, the principality’s government said on Thursday.
It said it had concluded talks with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on transparency and information sharing standards and would conclude an “anti-fraud” agreement with the EU by the end of 2009.
The move was welcomed by French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde, who said it responded to the concerns of the international community.
The OECD has laid down transparency rules that would require states to provide information about the accounts of foreign nationals to authorities in their home countries in cases of potential tax evasion.
Offshore financial centres such as Monaco, Luxembourg and Switzerland faced severe pressure from the Group of 20 rich and emerging nations to incorporate the standards into law and relax bank secrecy laws.
The issue, which has been a matter of contention for years, has gained in immediacy as cash-strapped governments have sought all available revenue to shore up budgets strained by the huge needs for public funds to support the crippled financial system.
The G20 had threatened to target countries on a “black list” of non-cooperative tax centres at a summit meeting in London on April 2 but many of the countries potentially concerned have now adopted the OECD’s transparency standards. (Writing by James Mackenzie)