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Minister Rejects 'Tax Haven Myths' 30 September 2005

    CHRISTIAN Aid’s inclusion of the Isle of Man in its criticism of so-called tax havens is based on ‘old myths and stereotypes’, according to Treasury Minister Allan Bell MHK.

    A briefing paper from the charity argued that offshore centres and tax havens, with their ‘banking secrecy’, facilitated tax evasion that was harming the poor countries of the world.

    The paper, entitled ‘The Shirts Off Their Backs’, declared: ‘Tolerance of tax havens has helped wealthy individuals and multi-national companies (as well as criminals, corrupt leaders and terrorists) move their wealth and profits offshore to avoid paying tax.’

    The Treasury Minister responded:

    ‘I personally share Christian Aid’s concerns about world poverty and respect their work. I have been pleased to deliver a fivefold increase in the budget for the Overseas Aid Committee since I became Treasury Minister. But it is disappointing to see the charity take such an ill-informed view of responsible centres like the Isle of Man, a view based on old myths and stereotypes.
    ‘The reality is that the Island is no different from any reputable onshore centre when it comes to tackling financial crime. External experts have shown repeatedly, most recently in the IMF report, that we fully comply with international standards in such areas as combating money laundering and terrorist funding. And we do NOT have – and never have had – banking secrecy.’

    Mr Bell continued:

    ‘On the question of taxation, the Isle of Man was one of the first international finance centres to sign up to the OECD programme for the development of a truly global network of tax information exchange. We have also demonstrated our international responsibility by co-operating with the EU tax package.
    ‘The only effective and fair response to global tax issues is by international agreements applying to onshore as well as offshore centres, and we have always argued for the level playing field. We cannot act unilaterally. It is unfair – and highly misleading - to single out offshore centres as the scapegoats in this debate.’

    30th September 2005

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