BRUSSELS – Economy and finance ministers from European Union member states agreed on Tuesday to remove eight countries from the bloc’s list of tax havens, including Panama, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.
According to a statement released by the European Council, these countries were removed after making commitments at a political level with the EU but are still to be closely monitored.
“Jurisdictions around the world have worked hard to make commitments to reform their tax policies. Our aim is to promote good tax governance globally,” said Vladislav Goranov, the finance minister for Bulgaria, which currently holds the Council’s six-month rotating presidency.
In 2016, journalists released the Panama Papers, which contained evidence that 140 politicians and officials from around the globe, including 72 former and current world leaders, had connections with secret offshore companies to escape tax scrutiny in their countries.
The leak included 11.5 million documents, mentioning over 214,000 offshore companies in more than 200 countries and territories, that were generated over almost 40 years by the large Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in capital and asset management.
The EU’s tax haven blacklist, approved on Dec. 5, 2017, is to now include only nine countries of the 17 originally announced: American Samoa, Bahrain, Guam, Marshall Islands, Namibia, Samoa, Saint Lucia, Palau and Trinidad and Tobago.
Alongside Panama, South Korea and the UAE on the so-called grey list are Macau, Barbados, Grenada, Mongolia and Tunisia.