In August 2013, Jersey, Bermuda and the BVI were added to France’s blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions, and while the Government continues to work on removing the Territory from said list, the question continues to be—“How did the Territory Get on the list.”
The Opposition has repeatedly chided the Government for the blacklisting, and even commented on the fact that removal is yet to occur. However, the blaming has ignited a response from Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn during the NDP Radio Program on 1 December.
During the program, Hon. Walwyn announced that the blacklisting occurred as a result of the Opposing Virgin Islands Party’s doing. The Minister said: “The offences that took place that caused that blacklisting actually took place in 2009/2010 under the then VIP government. We got in office on 7 November 2011 and the problem presented itself to us in January 2012, but you didn’t hear the Premier on the radio making noise about it, he tried to fix the problem.”
In alluding to the statements, the Opposition has made on the matter, Hon. Walwyn said: “Here it is: you have them spinning the story,making it look as if the blacklisting took place under this government when in fact it was their negligence from 2009/2010 that caused the blacklisting by France.”
The question on the cause of the blacklisting was put to Premier, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith during the 17 December, 2013 Sitting of the House of Assembly by Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser, who posed a three-pronged question.
Hon. Fraser asked the Premier if following France’s action to add the Territory to a list of “uncooperative jurisdictions” Government was able to determine the reason for the action, and if yes to divulge the reason and state what steps were being taken to remedy the problem. The Opposition Member also inquired about who the person or persons responsible for such a costly misstep were?
However, the Premier declined to answer stating: “Madame Speaker, my opinion, to answer this question would not be in the public interest according to Standing Order 18(6), so I cannot provide that information.”
During a press conference on 12 November, Premier Smith assured that the blacklisting of the BVI by France is being sorted out. In fact the BVI Leader disclosed that the Government has had discussion with France as far as the blacklisting is concerned and that France is now satisfied with the process which the Territory has since put in place.
As a future precaution Hon. Smith said that the Territory would have to make sure that it provides all of the required information that is requested and is expected under the tax information exchange agreements.
Following the blacklisting some persons in the community expressed concern over the fact that the blacklisting comes with a withholding tax of 75% on transactions that involve payments to the Territory and the extra scrutinizing of French companies’ subsidiaries or French nationals who do business in the BVI. Premier Smith assured that moves were being made to sort things out before the said consequences materialize.