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Picardo’s defends Rock’s commitment to transparency

The United Kingdom needs to look at its own tax rules to ensure fairness, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said this weekend as he defended Gibraltar commitment to transparency.

Mr Picardo made the comment during an interview with Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News on Sunday morning in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal and comparisons with Gibraltar.

The Chief Minister batted away suggestions that the issue applies to Gibraltar.

He said: “First of all Gibraltar is working very closely with the United Kingdom on these issues, we are working to the European standard, we are going to be as transparent as Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Spain, so I don't know there is any issue there.”

What has played out in the newspapers over the past week does not relate to Gibraltar, Mr Picardo said, but to people avoiding taxes in their home state by using territories that are not their home state.

“One of the territories they use very often if you are not in the United Kingdom is ironically the United Kingdom which is seen by many countries around the world as one of the biggest offshore tax havens on the planet.”

“The rules that need to be looked at and where work needs to be done, if you want a fairer society, if you want a fairer world, are the rules at home,” he added.

Mr Picardo reiterated that it is the UK parliament that creates the loopholes that people are advised they can legally exploit for the purposes of reducing, legally, their tax liabilities.

“So it is those rules that you need to look at,” he said.

He added: “If I were to be allowed to directly rule the United Kingdom in the way that some are suggesting the overseas territories should be directly ruled from the United Kingdom, I can tell you exactly what those rules are that need to be fixed.”

“I don't think that will happening any time soon Mr Picardo,” host Mr Murnaghan replied.

“Or the opposite,” Mr Picardo countered.

The Chief Minister further stated that the Rock has a ‘very strong’ relationship with the British Government and is working very closely with them.

“We are going to be the first with a central register of beneficial ownership which will be searchable, will be able to give the information within an hour if necessary and our register will be verified and it will be updated in real time whilst others will have annually updated unverified registers,” he said.

“I think we are a success story and that’s why the NGOs, that’s why Transparency International and the Tax Justice Network are saying Gibraltar does us credit.”

Mr Murnaghan concluded the interview by thanking Mr Picardo for his “robust defence” of Gibraltar.

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