6 December 2017

Namibia: European Union Blacklists Namibia

NAMIBIA has been blacklisted by the European Union as a tax haven, and could lose EU funding as a result.

The blacklisting was announced by French finance minister Bruno le Maire yesterday, following a decision adopted by EU finance ministers, according to reports in European and international media.

Namibia is one of 17 countries and territories on the EU blacklist of states and jurisdictions that fail to cooperate or deal effectively with tax-related matters and illicit financial flows.

The other blacklisted countries and territories are American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

The blacklist decision, transmitted internationally yesterday, was an EU attempt to publish lists of tax havens in a bid to discourage illicit tax and other financial activities.

The UK's Guardian reported that the blacklist will be linked to EU legislation so that jurisdictions implicated will not be eligible for funds from the bloc, except where funds are for development.

Namibia's commissioner of inland revenue, Justus Mwafongwe, yesterday denied knowledge of Namibia's blacklisting, but described it as shocking.

Finance minister Calle Schlettwein yesterday said that it was unfair and shocking that the EU would label Namibia as a tax haven.

He said earlier this year, the EU had send a questionnaire on tax issues, and the minister has responded, but it has not yet been forwarded back to the EU. Therefore, that cannot be used to blacklist the country.

"I cannot support this when there is harm done to our country. I am stunned by the assessment that Namibia would be labelled as a tax haven and blacklisted," he said.

It has also been reported that following the release of the 'Panama Papers' and 'Paradise Papers', by Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in conjunction with media houses around the world, the European Union has been looking into discouraging the use of tax havens, even though they are legal.

The Namibian has reported of Namibians implicated in the shady offshore financial world exposed by the 'Panama Papers' and now the 'Paradise Papers', in collaboration with the ICIJ.

The reports included a multimillionaire receptionist who was found to own various offshore businesses around the globe without knowing about it.

The son of Founding President Sam Nujoma, Zackey Nujoma, and his relationship with convicted Italian mafioso Vito Palazzolo, and the son of his best friend, count Rocky Agusta, was also mentioned in the Panama Papers, along with Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov, who owns vast tracts of land in Namibia.

Recently, The Namibian also reported about a joint venture fishing company, Atlantic Pacific Fishing, owned by China Fishery and Hefdy Fishing, Namibia Seaweed Processing and Joka Too, as paying management fees to a Mauritius-registered shelf company in an attempt to avoid paying taxes in Namibia.

The most recent 'Paradise Papers' report revealed that Namibian ambassador to Germany, Andreas Guibeb, was a director in two companies registered in European offshore tax haven, Malta.

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