OECD meeting on tax havens begins in Paris

October 21st, 2008 - 5:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, Oct 21 (DPA) Ministers and representatives from 18 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) began meeting in Paris Tuesday to tackle international tax havens.Convened by France and Germany, the participants will attempt to force tax havens to open their accounts to investigators looking for depositors who avoid paying taxes on their incomes.

The issue has been made more pressing because of the global finance crisis.

Pascal Saint-Amans, the OECD official in charge of the fight against tax havens, told the daily Le Figaro, “How can we pretend to rebuild a healthy financial system if we do not put an end to these dark pockets?”

The French government estimates that its annual budget is deprived of between 30 to 40 billion euros ($40-53 billion) because of offshore tax havens.

However, OECD members Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland are boycotting the meeting because their economies benefit from providing tax havens.

A French finance ministry official told Le Figaro that their absence was “significant” but would probably lead to a more forceful final declaration by participants at the meeting.

However, the absence of the US, because of its upcoming presidential election, is more important, as Washington’s support is crucial to any proposed reform.

As a result, observers expect that Tuesday’s meeting will limit itself to demanding that the OECD draw up a new “black list” of tax havens that do not cooperate with international finance investigators.

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