24 Jun 2009

Cooks Financial Services bill to assist other countries collect taxes

8:22 pm on 24 June 2009

The Trustees Companies Association in the Cook Islands says setting up a financial services development authority will assist other countries in collecting taxes owed by their citizens.

Parliament will shortly discuss the Financial Services Development Authority Bill which will set up a statutory body to be responsible for marketing the Cook Islands as an offshore financial services destination.

The sector was once blacklisted over money laundering concerns but the Cook Islands government brought in legislation which satisfied the international watchdog groups.

The President of the Trustees Companies Association, Brian Mason, says offshore financial jurisdictions have in the past sheltered offshore account holders from paying all their taxes owed.

But he says this is no longer tolerated as there is greater cooperation between countries who are exchanging tax information to ensure nobody evades their tax payments.

"The problem is that we've got nobody that has the statutory job of entering into agreements with other countries in relation to sharing tax information so the new authority would help fill that gap but its ultimate aim would be in fact to go out and market and sell the Cook Islands as a jurisdiction that's got a reputation for not being corrupt, for being confident."

Brian Mason from the Trustees Companies Association.