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London 30 March 2001

Antigua Ambassador Calls For
Measures To Offset OECD Demands

by Amanda Banks

[Full Statement of Sir Ronald Sanders]

     During a meeting with Antigua's Chamber of Commerce and Industry this week the High Commissioner to London, Sir Ronald Sanders, proposed two ways in which Antigua could tackle the demands of the OECD. 

     According to a report by the Antigua Sun Sir Ronald suggested that the Antigua government could convert offshore institutions into onshore entities with the power to operate on a local basis and he proposed that a public relations campaign be launched to counter the OECD's 'propaganda'.

     Sir Ronald, who is senior ambassador with ministerial rank and Antigua and Barbuda's representative on the Working Group concerned with the OECD initiative on Harmful Tax Competition, described the OECD threat to impose sanctions on Antigua & Barbuda if the jurisdiction did not comply with the organisation's demands as without basis and accused it of adopting the premise 'might is right.' He said: 'The OECD is an international grouping of 30 of the world's richest countries. It is not an international organization and has no legal authority to speak for the world, or to establish any rules, norms, or standards for any state other than their own members.'

     He continued: 'Nonetheless it is now dictating terms on what could be described as cross-border tax matters. It has said quite categorically that if targeted territories do not submit to their terms, damaging sanctions will be opposed against them.'

     Sir Ronald also commented on the OECD's concerns over international money laundering and financial crime saying, 'the OECD is attempting to dictate the tax policies and systems of other countries to the benefit of their own states. If they are successful in imposing their way in these matters they will be emboldened to do more. They have targeted 41 small states in the Pacific and the Caribbean whom they have branded as harbouring tax cheats, and secure havens for tax dodgers.'

     He added that the OECD member countries have 'some of the biggest offshore and tax havens globally and their media playing hand and glove with them, have taken up the mantle of deception that the concern is over money laundering and financial crime. What they are really after is unrestricted access on a global basis for their goods and services, to the detriment of the regions they are targeting. And what they want is to be able to have access to any financial information, offshore or onshore, regardless of privacy, or the right of a nation's courts to examine the request in checking out its validity.'

     He said a level playing field was necessary for all countries regardless of whether or not they were affected by the OECD but when the idea was presented to them Sir Ronald said they refused to accept it. He explained: 'We have agreed to accept some of their demands if they would agree to live by those same demands. Their response was to cut off all talks and demand that their conditions be met by July of this year.'


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