Yesterday, the Nordic countries signed an information exchange agreement with the British Virgin Islands, at the Icelandic Embassy in Copenhagen. Kristian Jensen, the Danish Minister of Taxation, Ambassadors and senior representatives of Faroes, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden signed the agreements on behalf of their respective countries, and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Social Development Dancia Penn signed on behalf of the government of the BVI.
The Nordic Council of Ministers noted that continuation of its project to “stop tax evasion”. *”It must no longer be possible for greedy companies and individuals to put themselves outside the international community and undermine the rules for global competiveness and the growth of welfare. Therefore the Nordic countries have taken the decision to continue the successful Nordic partnership to combat tax evasion. Through the agreements that have been signed the Nordic region has demonstrated that we are a region with international commitment which takes a global responsibility”*, stated the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Halldór Ásgrímsson.
The agreement with the British Virgin Islands is the sixth of its kind. The Nordic countries have already entered into similar agreements with the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Negotiations have reached an advanced stage with, amongst others, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles.
The Nordic Council said its members decided as early as 2006 to enter into negotiations with tax jurisdictions to combat international tax evasion. This continued co-operation strengthens the negotiation position of the Nordic countries and keeps the cost of the countries’ negotiation work down. The Faroe Islands and Greenland are also taking part in this work.
In reporting the signing on Monday, BVI Premier and Minister of Finance Ralph O’Neal said that the British Virgin Islands has signed as well a series of commercial agreements with the Nordic group; these include agreements relating to the avoidance of double taxation for enterprises operating ships or aircraft, and mutual agreement procedures and agreements for the avoidance of double taxation with respect to individuals.
The TIEAs provide for exchange of information on request relating to a specific criminal or civil tax investigation or civil tax matters under investigation. These Agreements build upon legislation in the jurisdictions, which already provides for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. The TIEAs reportedly reflect the governments’ shared commitment to implement the OECD’s principles of transparency and effective exchange of information. All participating governments have agreed that neither party has any intention of introducing any discriminatory, prejudicial or restrictive measures based on harmful tax practices while the TIEAs are in force and nor will they engage in any so-called “fishing expeditions”.