The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
("OECD") at the G-20 Summit in April this year developed
a three-tiered classification for offshore financial centres
according to an internationally agreed standard. An offshore
financial centre may be classified as 'white',
'grey' or 'black' based on the number of Tax
Information Exchange Agreements ("TIEA"s) entered into. A
classification of 'white', the highest distinction denoting
substantially implemented agreed tax standards, requires an
offshore financial centre to have entered into a minimum of 12
TIEAs are bilateral agreements which commit to the exchange of
information in criminal or civil tax investigations. As legal
instruments developed by the OECD Global Forum Working Group, TIEAs
represent the 'golden standard' for effective exchange of
information to address harmful tax standards.
Ogier provides legal and fiduciary services in the key offshore
financial centres of Guernsey, Jersey, the Cayman Islands and the
British Virgin Islands. Of these jurisdictions, Guernsey and Jersey
are currently listed in the 'white' category, while the
Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands both signed their
12th TIEAs with New Zealand on 13 August 2009 in Washington D.C.
satisfying the requirements for re-classification in the
The TIEA between the Cayman Islands and New Zealand will be
packaged with the existing 11 TIEAs and presented at the OECD
Global Tax Forum in Los Cabos, Mexico in September. The Cayman
Islands would then ascend from its status of 'grey' with
unsubstantial implementation of internationally agreed tax
standards to 'white' with substantial implementation.
In addition to these 12 'bilateral' TIEAs, the Cayman
Islands also has committed to additional 'unilateral' TIEAs
with countries including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic,
Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, Slovakia, South Africa and Switzerland.
All in all, this brings the count of total TIEAs to 21 recognising
the Cayman Islands commitment to securing the highest
implementation of agreed international tax standards for
information exchange and cooperation.
In the British Virgin Islands the Premier and Minister of
Finance Hon. O'Neal said the conclusion of its 12th TIEA with
New Zealand demonstrates the commitment of both the British Virgin
Islands and New Zealand governments to the OECD principles of
transparency and effective exchange of information. In addition to
its 12 TIEAs, the British Virgin Islands have also committed to
mutual agreement procedures and agreements for the avoidance of
double taxation for enterprises, operating ships or aircraft and
also in respect to individuals.
These key developments in the Cayman Islands and the British
Virgin Islands reflects the dedication of the two jurisdictions as
globally integrated offshore financial centres to the general
principles of transparency and their commitment to foster and
develop international best practice in all areas of financial
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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