4 Jul 2016

Samoa PM defends tax haven role

2:17 pm on 4 July 2016

Samoa's Prime Minister has defended its role as an offshore tax haven, claiming the ravages of climate change have left the islands increasingly reliant on the revenue it brings.

The Central Bank of Samoa in the capital Apia.

The Central Bank of Samoa in the capital Apia. Photo: RNZI/ Koroi Hawkins

Samoa was named in the Panama Papers tax scandal in April when documents were leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

During a state visit in Brussels, Tuilaepa suggested that royalty payments from trustee companies likes Mossack Fonseca fund social programmes for young people vulnerable to drug abuse.

Tuilaepa says the Samoa International Finance Authority or SIFA, which registers companies not actually in Samoa, is very important for financing youth in sport.

He says on top of the increase in force and frequency of storms, Samoa has a new problem of drugs coming in on boats.

The Guardian reports the Prime Minister denied any wrongdoing by SIFA, arguing their operations are legal and regulated and Samoa has signed up to three out of the four anti-money laundering standards.

Tuilaepa was meeting with officials in the EU to secure a 22.4 million US dollar subsidy for Samoa.