American Samoa placed in European Union’s tax havens list

by | Feb 26, 2019 | American Samoa | Comments

The European Union adopted a new list of 12 countries and 11 jurisdictions, including American Samoa, to reduce the scope of money laundering and terrorist financing activities. Banks and other entities covered by EU anti-money laundering rules will be required to increase their efforts in due diligence when dealing with customers and financial institutions from the listed countries and jurisdictions. American Samoa was already included in a separate EU blacklist of tax havens.

The list has been adopted by the Commission in the way of Delegated Regulation and will be submitted to The European Parliament and Council for approval within a month, with the chance of a possible one-month extension. Once the list has been approved, it will be published in the Official Journal and enter into practice 20 days after its publication.

The list places American Samoa next to countries with more extreme structures, which include Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria. The report revealed that the US territories “are attractive for tax crimes and exposed to a higher threat of money laundering,” and classified them (except for Puerto Rico) as “non-cooperative jurisdictions” for their deficient strategies when it comes to tackling tax fraud, evasion and avoidance.

The US Department of the Treasury rejected the inclusion of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands stating “significant concerns” along with disapproval regarding the developing process claiming it goes against the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) methodology. Another list formulated by the FATF excluded the US territories.

Lolo Matalasi Moliga, Governor of American Samoa, defended the financial operations in a letter stating that all banks except one were regulated by the US government and the one Australian-owned bank was operated with even more rigid standards.