SAINT LUCIA is on a list of 21 countries whose so-called ‘golden passport’ schemes are said to ‘threaten international efforts to combat tax evasion’, which has been published by a leading Western economic think tank based in France.
The eight Caribbean countries were named in a report released on Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The Paris-based body has raised the alarm about the fast-expanding $3bn (£2.3bn) Citizenship by Investment industry, which has allegedly ‘turned nationality into a marketable commodity.’
The CARICOM countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts-Nevis, and St Lucia.
They join only two member-states of the European Union (EU) – Malta and Cyprus – even though at least nine other EU countries operate similar schemes. Among the nine EU countries are Britain, Ireland, Italy and Portugal.
But while alarm bells are ringing in some of the affected jurisdictions, at least one Caribbean diplomat is urging Caribbean states not to over-react, as the so-called ‘black-listing’ is not yet in effect.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US and the United Nations, Sir Ronald Sanders, in a weekly commentary published across the Caribbean, says there may also be some hypocrisy involved in the way in which the Caribbean is being treated for schemes akin to that practiced in and by several EU member-states.