VICTORIA (Reuters) - Seychelles rejected charges on Monday that it was one of the world's five most secretive tax havens for the super rich, saying the Indian Ocean archipelago had nothing to hide.
Last month, the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes listed Seychelles among five states that either failed to share taxpayer details with other countries or to gather information on beneficial ownership of corporate entities registered on their territory.
Seychelles failed the test because its relevant legislation does not work well enough, said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which oversees the forum.
"Despite there being no concrete examples of non-compliance, the assessment perhaps judged that the smallness of our jurisdiction, and our capacity to regulate in relation to the fast rise of our financial services sector, represented a risk," Foreign Minister Jean Paul Adam told Reuters.
Seychelles had a wide network of tax exchange information agreements including with 15 European jurisdictions, Adam said, and had complied with every request for information.
"We have made clear we have nothing to hide and have opened ourselves to the widest scrutiny possible," said Adam.
The OECD said that international companies, banks and agencies might think twice about investing through the five jurisdictions it singled out, also including Luxembourg, Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands.
Adam said that while Seychelles had already amended its laws to abolish so-called bearer shares that can be transferred without registering ownership, many OECD countries had not.
"This is the real question of transparency that must be addressed going forward," Adam said. Small island states had often been targeted as convenient scapegoats, he added.
(Reporting by George Thande; Writing by Richard Lough/Mark Heinrich)
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