The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – On Being Deemed a Tax Haven

Jeff Cumberbatch – Columnist, Deputy Dean of UWI, Law Faculty, Chairman of the FTC

Nobody agrees what a tax haven is. The term is a bit of a misnomer, for these places don’t just offer an escape from tax. They offer secrecy, in various forms, combined with varying degrees of refusal to co-operate with other jurisdictions in exchanging information. The term “secrecy jurisdiction” emerged in the US in the late 1990s… –The Guardian (UK) 2011

Clearly peeved by the loss of substantial potential tax revenues, the Council of the European Union has chosen to punish a number of the state beneficiaries of this largesse or at least part of it. These comprise those jurisdictions, including Barbados and some of our regional neighbours, where wealthy European nationals and their more profitable corporations may deposit a significant proportion of their income and thus avoid any or a lower liability to tax on it in their native jurisdictions.

That such an initiative may be perfectly legal under various double taxation agreements concluded with some of these jurisdictions appears not to matter one whit to the Council in the present context of naming and shaming.

The mode of punishment employed on this occasion is the compilation and wide publication of a catalogue of those jurisdictions that are deemed to have failed to meet agreed “tax governance standards” and possess “harmful preferential tax regimes”; in fine, tax havens.

To the extent that one jurisdiction has failed to perform its solemnly promised obligations to another, there should be little quarrel with condign sanctions being employed and if indeed Barbados has been delinquent in this regard, then there may be no legitimate beef with the promisee taking action to enforce the pact made. My brief exposure to Public International Law, (happily survived), reminds me that “pacta sunt servanda” (agreements are sacred) and if there is any doubt about fulfilling a voluntary commitment then international morality and comity between nations would dictate that it ought not to be made in the first place.

There has been an official rejoinder however that Barbados has not in fact broken its word but that it has earnestly committed to repealing the relevant offending legislation, the Fiscal Incentives Act, Cap. 71A, by next year September, a full three months before the agreed stipulated date.

Again, I am not fully persuaded that this is a sufficient answer to the complaint. If the agreement was to have the law repealed by a specified date, this would be clearly compliant with the agreed undertaking and thus undeserving of censure; however, if there was the agreed requirement of an immediate cessation of the application of the legislation, then a promise to do so at some date in the future could scarcely be viewed as conforming.

Legitimate questions may of course arise as to the source of the Council of the EU to make such a demand in the first place but my thesis here is based purely on the fact of a potential breach of a voluntary agreement by a jurisdiction.

The irony is not lost either that the list has been deemed, in consonance with the “albino-centric” (a lexical borrowing) connotations of the English language, a “blacklist”; while those jurisdictions who are treated more leniently comprise a grey list and a white list must exist somewhere or other.

The further tarring of these jurisdictions as tax havens is perhaps the “most unkindest” cut of all. For not only is there no globally accepted meaning of this undoubtedly pejorative term, as the epigraph suggests, but the European Union also has, among its member states, a number of jurisdictions that may equally be so classified, although last Wednesday, according to a report in the EU Observer the European Parliament agreed that Malta, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland should not be considered tax havens although this had been suggested by a Socialist group amendment as part of 211 recommendations contained in a report by a special inquiry committee into money laundering, tax avoidance and evasion, the PANA committee.

The closeness of the Parliamentary vote; according to the report in the EU Observer, “the proposal obtained 327 votes against, 327 in favour and 24 abstentions, which means it could not be adopted as there was no majority”, serves to demonstrate the vagueness of the terminology and also perhaps the emotionalism and blatant hypocrisy attached to such a demption.

One of the recommendations of the PANA Committee that is of more than passing interest is that “in offshore jurisdictions and in some EU Member States company registers and authorities often do not require or do not share either the information necessary to identify beneficial owners, qualified shareholders, supervisory board members management board members and general managers, or balance sheet information or profit and loss statements; notes that the identification of UBOs in some countries relies only on the self-declaration of beneficial ownership information, without any further verification. What is that passage about the mote and the beam again?

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? –Matthew 7:3

Season’s greetings !

47 thoughts on “The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – On Being Deemed a Tax Haven

  1. Countries like US, Ireland, Guernsey and a host of others should have been on that list, they are targetting the most vulnerable only.

  2. Black list.. black market … black magic.. black eye…black sites black hole thats another conversation there is something even stranger going on here have you noticed none of the countries named have nuclear weapons

  3. It must be five years or more BU highlighted that the change in treaty agreements by Canada where domiciles like Barbados were relieved of exclusivity means it is only a matter of time. We continue to mark time by dumping too many eggs in this basket.

  4. @ Jeff
    Bushie is flattered to see terms like “pacta sunt servanda” being used in the same document as “albino-centric”.
    Perhaps Latin does have some relevance after all…. LOL

    On a serious note though, can Barbadians have REALLY thought all along – that these special tax arrangements were in place because we were somehow ‘special’?

    Obviously these were established to benefit the CANADIAN corporations (and the politicians behind them), who domiciled here – and could ONLY have been a temporary arrangement.

    Instead of ‘making hay while the sun shone’, (investing the benefits in INCOME GENERATING ventures) we decided to ‘live it up’ on the expectation that the sun will alway shine…

    Brass bowls are like that…
    It was the same shiite with tourism.
    …Same with the sugar subsidies that we got from England

    Where there is no vision, the people perish…
    It looks like rain in 2018 …and our turn to perish.

  5. David

    Permit us to draw to your attention the magisterial disposition on Bexit by George Galloway.

    The first ten minutes only. Indeed the is nobody on the periphery of national life in Barbados with the courage, capacity, to read the environment similarly.

    • An interesting opening salvo, he covered quite a bit, the right of the parliament to rule on Brexit, the effect of immigration and most interesting the unholy alliance between Tory anti Brexit faction and labour bearing in mind neither May or Corbyn have the stomach for Brexit from the start…


  6. The problem is that Barbados lacks ANY proper lobbyism in Brussels and Geneva. The staff of the Barbadian missions there is more concerned about shopping tax-free and buying cars without taxes and with huge diplomat rebates. Just look at Hughland Allman, Deputy Permanent Representative in Geneva who is more concerned about female staff members than Barbadian interests on international level. All the missions are a waste of taxpayer´s money.

  7. That old proverb comes to mind “Who de cat like e lick, who e don’t e scratch”. These periodic lists are a plague on the majority black, poor, impotent countries that are featured. Apple has parked 250 billion dollars in Jersey in the Channel Islands but we never hear a peep about Jersey and I’ll bet that’s where the politicians and the Corporations that back them have some of their money stashed. What about Switzerland? Who knows what is in Switzerland or Lichtenstein?

  8. Sargeant,

    Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Jersey do proper lobbyism. Barbados not. Our officers just hang around in Brussels and Geneva, shopping, instead networking and influencing OECD and EU representatives.

  9. @ Tron
    Our officers just hang around in Brussels and Geneva, shopping, instead networking and influencing OECD and EU representatives.
    It may be best that they do this.

    Have you ever heard that you should be careful what you ask for… least you get it…?
    Our overseas officers are political lackies of the lowest order -usually sent there to rid the local scene of their uselessness.

    Send them around treaties and international agreements …and we would even more quickly find ourselves back living on plantation tenantries….. It is bad enough that the ‘higher quality; politicians who stay at home are taking us there….

    …bunch of pissy traitors.

  10. I’ve worked in the international business since leaving school. Europe and North America, especially after the economic downturn in 2007/2008, has been trying very very hard to stop the flow of capital from their regions and to increase their tax revenue. They are doing everything thing possible to get that done. Every couple of months the OECD, EU etc come with some requirement for other ‘3rd world’ countries especially, engaging in international business to be deemed fit to do business.

    • @Kevin

      Yet this government and the ones before who must see the trend continue to promote a message that the offshore sector is our saviour read services? We have to grow sectors from within as well.

  11. Banks (mandatory) duty is Income Reporting for all Clients.
    Dodgy clients will remove dodgy money to prevent prosecution.
    When whites start to lose they calways change the rules.
    Next problem is blacks being called radicals extremists and racists and whites giving themselves a pass for their past

  12. But both governments are correct. The offshore sector can be right up there with tourism. It has great potential and contributes directly and indirectly to the economy of this country.

    • @Kevin

      We are discussing the state of things in recent times. In the wake of the Paradise Papers leak it is clear the OECD and others will use this to harass tax jurisdiction like Barbados. Even in the face of the assault to come you would stick to such a comment? There is no future in the offshore sector -look for the runoff in this business in the months years ahead.

  13. @ David

    This “discussion” about the EU, OECD and the Caribbean reminds me of a recent development in Barbados.

    Have you noticed how Robert “Bobby” Morris has quietly resigned as this island’s CARICOM Ambassador to take up his role as the DLP’s campaign manager for the 2018 general elections?

    A female has taken up the position.

  14. Small countries, with no clout and no nuclear weapons, need to exploit opportunities as they arise in the international economic system. When those opportunities of exploitation
    disappear ,the simple solution is to look for other economic opportunities. That is the reality.

    There are always new economic situations to exploit. We have found them in the past and we will find them in the future.

  15. There is much future in the offshore sector. Jurisdictions such as Cayman and Bermuda that have come under the microscope of both European and North American politicians and institutions for decades are still going strong. So can we here in Barbados if we are proactive to mitigate against the challenges that will come.

    • Are Bermuda and Cayman dependencies on the UK? Is Barbados?

      Why do you think Barbados is not on the same grey/white list?

  16. Bobby Morris is a damn idiot, dont know why these useless old men dont shut up amd go away, they have nothing useful to offer the population outside of recruiting them as dumb yardfowls for one political party or the other.

    • Who are these UK politicians?

      Are they in the majority?

      What influence do you anticipate they will have on the current policy concerning tax havens/jurisdictions?

  17. Barbados has not always chosen to be a ‘small country”

    This has been a narrative well-worn in the hands of most

    Tomorrow Barbados can decide to exert muscle as a larger country by ceasing to define itself merely in terms of a rock in the Caribbean Sea

    Defining ourselves as wherever Bajans and their descendant live

    This writer was recently in Panama where Bajans still live, today

    Having gone there to labour on the Canal

    It was these Bajans who came back to transform land ownership and whose efforts were thwarted by a pre-independence government

    But nowhere in any conversations by the ‘small’ minded do they think of them

    Or what a redefinition could mean for creative solutions in national survival.

    • @Pacha

      Does Jamaica qualify as one of those countries in the Caribbean that has used its brand and diaspora to expand its geographical border?

  18. Bobby was useless as Caricom Ambassador so who cares whether he is ambassador or a high flying yardfowl. He was a frequent presence at Miami Beach when he should be at work. This tells you the job is not needed.

    He cannot point to one achievement ………so is that job really necessary in light of the previous post holder……….the clown from St Lucy?

    To go from ambassador to campaign manager in a spilt second means the job is just a way for him to feed at the trough and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

    Like OSA or not when these parasites who rule the world economies black listed Barbados he called out their BS and went to war with them to rectify the situation.

    We have Donville Innis! Go figure……..

  19. Meanwhile Jamaica welcomes its 4 millionth visitor and Ron Sanders is calling for the release of the Golding Report on Jamaica and Caricom going forward.

  20. Brexit is affecting investors confidence in May’s government and it appears that the Remainers are joining forces to influence the final vote next autumn.For sure Cow would be happy for the U.K. Market to settle down so he can get on with disposing of his assets and repay the NIS its 17 million plus interest at the going rate.

  21. For those interested the actual EU document can be found here

    Note, the term Tax Haven does NOT appear.
    The term blacklist, appears once, page 19, but observe how it is used….”use “black” lists of third countries, such lists could cover at least the jurisdictions listed in the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.”

  22. Tax haven, tax smaven…. all a lot of bollocks. The large countries call the shots. Malta… the poor journalist who spearheaded Panama Papers was murdered by the Mafia there.

    Jersey and Channel Islands…another tax haven, Cayman brass plate companies. Stupse.

    It is all about money grabbing, nothing more. Same with anti money laundering. The biggest launderers are in the large countries. Who do you think owns the large casinos in Vegas, large tracts of real estate? Mafia. How do you think money is laundered? Casinos and building, real estate developments in large countries.

    You really think those Arabs and Chinese own all of those expensive condos in large cities?

    Trade deals what. Look at the US – Canada quarrel. Ignore trade deal and diplomacy. Canada is protectionist, their banks are protected by government and industries too.

    Check this report on Canada protecting its aircraft industry, Bombardier.

    You tink dem easy?

  23. This is why I said in another article comment, that Barbados needs to develop banking relationships with the large Chinese banks and I would add South American banks.

    With the Northern banks withdrawing in effect, Barbados needs relationship banking that is not restricted by charades.

    The Chinese will not bow to pressure, have solid economic power and South American is large and could provide alternatives for money transfers.

    If the small states have become irrelevant to the northern countries, they must find other sources of financial support and routing.

    And they can circumvent some of the charades by so doing.

    If someone holds the purse strings, they call the shots.

    Getting liberated is the only way to determine your own destiny.

  24. One last thing. Money laundering and terrorist financing. The same people making the rules are the ones who interfered with sovereign states and financed terrorism.

    The CIA supported Bin Laden in his formative years against Russia in Afghanistan.

    It is not some backra-johhny from Barbados or Bermuda, or some little corporation that sponsors terrorism.

    Largely it is state sponsored. Weapons and logistics takes substantial resources.

    That will not stop with ‘regulations’. Those agencies have their ‘ways’.

    The money laundering regulations are a way to restrict the flow of capital and funds by the small states and lock them in place, ‘where they belong’.

    Not everything is altruistic, sadly, one realizes as one gets older.

    As the bajan saying, ‘every skin-teet aint a smile’.

    • Your point is taken Crusoe, we understand the geopolitics. We are in a position to make better decisions. How we shape our consumption behaviors, living within our means etc. Goodgod man, use some Vaseline before we allow…

  25. @ Crusoe
    A man of your understanding and deep perception MUST have come to realise by now, that life is MUCH more complicated that these surface issues of day-to-day survival.

    Indeed, it must be obvious to you that in the grand scheme of things, the fact that evil, unfair, unlawful and unrighteous systems have come to dominate our world, portends the imminent end of whatever project our experience of ‘life on planet earth’ was designed to execute.

    It would be interesting to hear your take of the REAL picture that we are all missing….

  26. @ David
    We are in a position to make better decisions.
    Are we…?
    On what basis can you draw such a conclusion?

    Boss, we fight NOT against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…..and at the damned Garrison…..

    We are in no position to do shit….!!!
    ….not without a whacker.

    • @Bush Tea

      We sink half billion every year in education and we have developed an educated workforce in the post Independence period. We have earned the reputation as a model Black country. Yes by our high standard we have slipped some but the HDI bar was higher than the rest not so?

  27. The misconception continues, the islands post slavery were not educated, they were miseducated, an experiment to retain control of the weakest Black minds, it succeeded, has now been worn out, overused, played out….the abusers and exploiters are themselves worn out and are moving on to better things FOR THEMSELVES.

    Being the naturally distrustful person that I am….I see no room for small islands and their useless, material obsessed leaders in that matrix….am sure the metropolises cant see it either…other than as field slaves….. again.

  28. @ David
    We sink half billion every year in education
    ‘Sink’ is exactly right.
    This is the very GENESIS of our problem. We do not even know what ‘education’ is…

    Not even by the the paltry standards of the albino-centric capitalist system that we have adopted, does our ‘eddykashun’ system stand up to any kind of scrutiny…
    …far less by the ACTUAL meaning and intent of true “EDUCATION” – which should OBVIOUSLY be about identifying and understanding the TRUE purpose of life; the DEFINITION of successful living; and the POTENTIALITIES that a successful life has to offer…

    With the shiite system that we have installed, – led by one of the biggest clowns EVER to have been born, we have a CLEAR national case of “Garbage in – Garbage OUT…..”

    Tell Bushie if the FACTS do not support this analysis…

  29. Bush Tea December 18, 2017 at 8:00 AM #

    Bushman, you give me too much credit. I have no great theory or explanation of the ‘greater view’.

    That said, I fully agree that there is clear evidence of sinister forces at play, such that one can almost ‘feel it in the bones’ as to coming tribulations, that the whole thing is about to fall apart.

    To put it this way, at the face of it, there is argument over North Korea, war etc etc. But honestly, it is becoming obvious that the next real upheaval worldwide will be caused by the gap between the ‘rich and everyone else’. This has been catalyzed by the decimation of the middle class, in many countries. By accident or design?

    Taking a step back, to me the greater view is that we all go to another place, another time maybe, when our work here is done.

    This is all preparation for that. There will be some who say that we are all part of the same consciousness, maybe we are, but I surmise that there is still individuality of life, even carried forward. While there are many similarities with us, there are many differences in each soul.

    I cannot surmise as to what the next step is, where we shall find ourselves. Sometimes I do wonder if the ‘purpose of here’ is to, to put it in raw terms, separate the wheat from the chaff.

    But really, until, we will have no real idea.

    I do think that we should all seek ‘goodness’, whatever that is, lol. To me it is clear what it is, whether in everyday life or as a general approach.

    I am one of those who some would see as a dreamer. The world is too beautiful in many ways, for life and the next one, to not be. Except for the horror that men inflict.

    Think too, that everything around us cycles and is reborn in one form or another. Everything.

    So, why not the soul?

    Yes, some will get into a discussion or argument of ‘what is soul, does it exist’.

    Is it satisfactory to say that ‘I believe that it exists’?

    At some point, faith plays a part.

    Not faith in any particular religion, but faith in your own convictions. Science explains a lot, the science that we know.

    But it does not explain everything, and we do not know all science, probably a fraction of it all?

    Do I have evidence of any of this? No. But I do have inner guidance. That is where I gather my faith.

    Some will argue as to what that guidance is. I will say this. If one does not have that, one is lost.

    We all should have it.

    Does that make sense Mr.Bushman?

  30. Does that make sense Mr.Bushman?
    Intriguingly so.

    It was always obvious that you are one of those lucky few who somehow escaped the brass bowl pill…. perhaps you were not born at the QEH…?

    Your consummate logic of observing that EVERYTHING ELSE AROUND us may be the very best source of knowledge about ourselves is profound…. instead of minding jokers who seek to ‘understand the Bible’ (which ITSELF says that it CANNOT be understood without SPECIAL, SPECIFIC super-natural assistance) makes you one in 10 million.

    You also answer the question that Bushie keeps asking himself every time he cleans the jobby off the whacker after a session….

    How come BBE don’t just send in the D9 Caterpillar …
    and clean up the lotta shiite in Barbados once and for all…?”

    Apparently there remain a few potential diamonds that can be salvaged from the sewerage…

    If you seek… you WILL find.
    If you knock…the door WILL open

  31. Nevis an offshore haven of opportunity


    Today we’re releasing more data from the Paradise Papers. We’re adding more than 160,000 entities to our Offshore Leaks Database from four Caribbean jurisdictions.

    We also dive into a story about Kurt Donsbach – a doctor with a history of practicing medicine without a license. He reconfigured a trust in Nevis and moved assets, after being sentenced, which is not surprising given the island’s asset-protection laws.

    There is also an update about our UK partners, The Guardian and the BBC, which reported that Appleby – the law firm at the center of the Paradise Papers – is pursuing a legal case against them for their reporting. Our director, Gerard Ryle, called this a “dangerous moment for free expression.”

    Until next time!

    Amy Wilson-Chapman

    ICIJ’s Community Engagement Editor

    P.S. We’ve also just made it easier for you to financially support ICIJ. In four easy steps you can organize a fundraiser for us.


    Unapproved Drug-Sellers, ‘Sugar Visa’ Hunters Find the Elixir of Long Life in Nevis

    Trusts can be used in many jurisdictions to protect estates and shield assets. But the asset protection laws of Nevis offer more of an impediment to inquiries of tax collectors, prosecutors and creditors than do the laws of most other jurisdictions.

    Four Caribbean Tax Havens Added To The Offshore Leaks Database

    ICIJ’s Offshore Leak Database now features more than 680,000 entities from 55 searchable jurisdictions. Today we added Barbados, the Bahamas, Aruba and Nevis – the last two were previously absent from the public data.

    Appleby launches legal action against ICIJ’s UK partners

    The law firm at the center of the Paradise Papers has demanded the disclosure of documents used by news outlets in their reporting and is seeking damages. "This is a potentially dangerous moment for free speech in Britain," said ICIJ director Gerard Ryle.

    Paradise Papers Research Raises Questions Over Glencore’s $440m Congo Discount

    Mining companies now controlled by commodities giant Glencore won $440 million in discounts on payments in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The discount was almost as large as the country’s total education budget at the time.


    I wonder if David BU and other doomsday prophets realised the story above is not about Barbados 🇧🇧!!

    Do these prophets of doom & gloom realised that economic struggles are also part of the rich and famous countries ???

    Is the Hon. MOF Chris Sinckler in charge of the finances of the country highlighted in the article ?

  33. @ Fractured BLP December 27, 2017 at 11:09 AM

    No! They are not that stupid to put a numerically-challenged jackass in charge of their finances. Ask your friend, the muzzled Pitbull, for verification.

    Do you see any sewage flowing in the streets of those countries with a pack of assholes throwing their hands up in the air with despair?

    When are you, the fractured ba lair, going to get back to David (BU) with those answers, as promised? Now don’t use the appointment of a female GG as a diversion.

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