Cook Islands: Double Tax Treaties
In 2003 a Finance Intelligence Unit was established, which in July 2004 was accepted as a member of the Egmont Group – the internationally recognised body for FIUs.
Under Sections 10 and 11 of the Financial Transactions Reporting Act 2003, a broad range of “financial institutions” are required to submit ML-related reports to the FIU on suspicious transactions and cash and/or electronic transactions above $NZ 10,000 (at the time of entry into force). The FIU has the authority to require reporting parties to supplement reports and has broad powers to obtain relevant information needed to combat ML. The FIU is able to exchange information with counterpart FIUs or like agencies without violation of secrecy provisions.
During the Egmont Group meeting at Guernsey in the English Channel Islands in 2004, the Cook Islands FIU signed a memorandum of understanding with its Australian counterpart, AUSTRAC. The agreement supports the “desire by both parties to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of persons suspected of money laundering and serious crimes in the spirit of cooperation and mutual interest.” The Cook Islands FIU is now working with its Thailand and New Zealand counterparts to sign similar agreements in the near future.
In October 2007, it was announced that the European Commission had signed Country Strategy Papers with 13 Pacific States at the 38th Pacific Island Forum in Tonga.
The states in question (the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) were the first to sign the country strategy papers under the framework of the 10th European Development Fund - allocating them EUR267mn for the period 2008-2013.
Three priorities were set: good governance, sustainable management of natural resources and growth.
Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, observed at the time that:
"With this signing, the Pacific Islands will be that little bit closer to Europe. I am delighted to see that agreed strategies are on the way now for concrete projects for the benefit of the peoples of the Pacific Region."