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‘DIRTY THIRTY?’ European Union Puts U.S. Virgin Islands on Blacklist of Illegal Tax Havens

BRUSSELS — The U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and Saint Kitts and Nevis are set to be added next week to a European Union blacklist of tax havens, raising to nine the number of jurisdictions on it, a European Union document seen by Reuters News Service shows.

The decision, taken by EU tax experts, is set to be endorsed by EU finance ministers at a regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, when the 28 EU governments are also expected to delist Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia.

As a result of both moves, the blacklist would maintain nine jurisdictions deemed to facilitate tax avoidance. The other six are American Samoa, Guam, Namibia, Palau, Samoa and Trinidad and Tobago.

The document, prepared by EU officials and dated March 8, also adds Anguilla, The British Virgin Islands, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda to a so-called grey list of jurisdictions which do not respect EU anti-tax avoidance standards but have committed to change their practices.

The grey list includes dozens of jurisdictions from all over the world. Blacklisted jurisdictions could face reputational damage and stricter controls on their financial transactions with the EU, although no sanctions have been agreed by EU states yet.

Those who are in the grey list could be moved to the blacklist if they do not honour their commitments. Caribbean islands hit by hurricanes last year were given more time to comply
with EU tax transparency standards when the bloc’s blacklist was established in December.

Earlier this month, EU experts decided to propose the delisting of Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia, a document dated March 2 showed.

That attracted criticism from anti-corruption activists who called for disclosure of the commitments made by the delisted jurisdictions. These engagements remain secret.

The initial blacklist included 17 jurisdictions, but after one month eight were removed. They were Barbados, Grenada, South Korea, Macau, Mongolia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Panama. That move was also widely criticised by some EU lawmakers and activists.

Panama’s delisting caused a particular outcry as the EU process to set up the tax-haven blacklist was triggered by publication of the Panama Papers – documents that showed how wealthy individuals and multinational corporations use offshore schemes to reduce their tax bills.

EU countries were not screened. They were deemed to be already in line with EU standards against tax avoidance, though anti-corruption activists and lawmakers have repeatedly asked for some EU members such as Malta and Luxembourg to be blacklisted.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.


  1. Larry Williams
    March 10, 2018 at 7:33 AM — Reply

    How stupid can you get? The US Virgin Islands a tax haven? Look at our banking system it certainly isn’t designed for a tax haven. Idiots prevailed when this article was written. Banco Popular, First Bank, Scotia Bank, Bank of St. Croix; Tax haven banks?

    You’ve got to be kidding… Is this a John McCarthy April fools article 🙂

    All of these banks are in the United States banking system, controlled by the FDIC. If these are tax haven banks than every bank in the United States of the tax haven bank.

    No wonder Brits exited the EU if this is the best their economic consultants can come up with.

    • March 11, 2018 at 11:18 AM — Reply

      Thank you for your comment Mr. Williams. This is a Reuters News Service article. But I am sure we will all wait for the anticipated announcement Tuesday from the European Union (EU) after reading this story. We at the V.I. Free Press would like to see the proof the EU is offering about the territory.

  2. Dr. intheknow
    March 11, 2018 at 11:40 AM — Reply

    And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why the majority of us voted to leave this money grabbing shambles called the EU.
    Here in the UK, we’re becoming a backwards nation, our NHS is dying before us, our roads are crumbling away, crime is going up, drugs are common place, the Police force cut to the bone, homelessness at a record high, old, sick and disabled have had their lifelines cut, yet we still throw money into this bottomless money pit, and they even have the cheek to ask us for £40 billion to buy ourselves out!
    Every day we hear we can’t do this, we can’t do that, because of some pathetic EU law
    The EU, is the biggest, greediest, corrupted organisation in the world, and about time someone investigated them.

  3. Larry Williams
    March 11, 2018 at 4:08 PM — Reply

    EU Globalists think your money belongs to their greater socialist justice schemes that never enrich the poor; only the powerful.

    So John assures us this is not a joke and in the process shows how much of a joke the authors of this report are. All banks in the USVI are in the US banking system. Hardly a tax haven. All this begets the point it is your money, you worked for and belongs to you, not them.

    Brexit prevailed because the EU did not even have the courtesy to point a gun and wear a mask when taking good peoples money and possessions.

  4. Tom smith
    March 12, 2018 at 9:47 AM — Reply

    Why do they call it a “black” list ?

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