Austria Labels UK as a Tax Haven

April 12, 2013 Tax HavensTaxation in Austria

Old Bank Vault - 009VIENNA – Austria’s Finance Minster has struck out against the UK, saying that the country is a haven for tax evasion and money laundering.

In a media interview published on April 11th the Finance Minister of Austria Maria Fekter indicated that the government may be open to discussions on loosening the country’s bank secrecy laws, but stated that “these cannot be a one way street”, and as part of a joint international commitment, the UK and the USA would also need to amend their legislation and regulations which can facilitate the occurrence of international tax evasion and money laundering.

Maria Fekter’s comments stem from recent pressure excreted on Austria by the European Union to stop the practice of allowing foreign citizens to easily open and hold bank accounts in Austria.

According to the Minister, other countries in Europe should also be forced to address shortcomings in their legislation, and as an example she stated that the UK should be forced to tighten its own regulations surrounding the residency of directors and the information which is held about overseas based directors, as the country is currently “blessed for tax evasion and money laundering”.

She went on to say that the problem is not confined to jsut the UK, but all other countries and territories where UK law is applied, and she specifically mentioned the need for a trust registry in the Channel Islands, and the requirement to implemnt a new tax regime in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the Gibraltar.

During her interview the Minister also noted that while attention was being drawn to Austria, other developed countries outside of Europe also have regulations which could encourage tax evasion, explaining that “…Delaware and Nevada are [also] tax havens and money-laundering havens that have to be laid bare.”

Photo by JasonBechtel