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Gibraltar still on Spanish ‘tax haven’ list

Photo by Eyleen Gomez.

Gibraltar remains on Spain’s list of countries and territories it regards as tax havens, according to a document published by the Spanish treasury on Thursday.

Gibraltar was still included in the updated list despite Spain’s commitment to remove it after the tax treaty for Gibraltar and Spain came into force in March 2021.

The development will come as a disappointment here, although Spain is still within the two-year time frame it gave for removing Gibraltar from the list.

The timeframe was set out in a letter sent to the UK ambassador in Madrid, Hugh Elliott, by the then Spanish State Secretary for the European Union, Juan Gonzalez-Barba, in January 2021.

The contents of the letter were revealed by the Chief Minister during a parliamentary debate on the tax treaty in February that same year.

In the letter, Mr Gonzalez-Barba wrote: “The effective application of the Agreement is the basis for the exclusion of Gibraltar from the list of tax havens, and for this purpose Spain will adopt appropriate measures within the current legal framework so that Gibraltar is no longer considered a tax haven in Spanish legislation within two years from its entry into force.”

For now, Gibraltar remains among 24 countries and territories listed as tax havens in the Spanish document published on Thursday.

Another 14 countries were removed from the list, according to the document.

The list indicates countries that Spain regards as uncooperative and lacking transparency under international rules.

Gibraltar, which has been on the OECD white list of territories committed to tax transparency since 2009, has long argued that Spain’s position cannot be justified.

The situation is further complicated however by the decision last year by the Financial Action Task Force to add Gibraltar to its “grey list” of high-risk countries.

The FATF highlighted two issues that Gibraltar must address and the Gibraltar Government is confident that Gibraltar will be removed from the grey list within the next few months.

In the meantime though, the FATF list is used by many countries as a default for their own lists of high-risk countries.

Last December, for example, the European Commission included Gibraltar on its list of high-risk countries with “strategic deficiencies” in mechanisms to counter money laundering and terrorist financing, an automatic administrative update based on information from the FATF.

Asked to comment on the latest development, a spokesman for No.6 Convent Place said: "We continue working to ensure all nations remove Gibraltar from any negative listings."

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