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Gibraltar Rejects Spanish Tax Transparency Criticism

by Jason Gorringe, Lowtax.net, London
16 July, 2015

Gibraltar's Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, has written to the Spanish Treasury Minister Cristóbal Montoro reaffirming Gibraltar's desire to enter into a tax information exchange agreement with Spain.

Picardo's letter follows remarks purportedly made by Montoro on June 19, 2015, to the effect that Gibraltar ought to have featured in the list of 30 uncooperative countries and jurisdictions recently published by the European Commission.

Picardo says that he first wrote to Montoro in 2013 expressing Gibraltar's desire to enter into a tax information exchange agreement with Spain and inviting Spanish officials to visit Gibraltar and verify the territory's commitment to international standards of tax information exchange. According to Picardo, to date he has not received a reply to that letter.

According to the Gibraltar Government, no agreement has been reached between the two countries, despite Gibraltar's efforts, due mainly to the cancellation of tripartite talks between Gibraltar, the UK, and Spain by the Spanish People's Party, upon its election, in 2012.

The tripartite forum had begun to build a framework under which Gibraltar and Spain could discuss contentious issues, including maritime borders, customs policy, and, critically, tax information exchange. Previously it had been thought that through a tax information exchange agreement, relations between Spain and Gibraltar could be markedly improved, including through recognition by Spain of Gibraltar's status as a transparent, highly-regulated international financial center, independent from the United Kingdom.

Picardo said: "I have told Montoro that it is clear that he does not want to face what is obviously such an inconvenient truth to him, namely, that Gibraltar is fully compliant with all EU and international standards on tax transparency and cooperation. Gibraltar's absence in the EC's recently published list is entirely justified and reflects the reality of Gibraltar's compliance. What is more, as Montoro ought to know, I remind him that even though Spain refuses to enter into a bilateral agreement with Gibraltar on exchange of tax information..."

"Indeed, the Gibraltar Income Tax Office regularly receives requests from Spain under the EU Directive and responds to all such requests. I have told Montoro that it is therefore difficult to see any justification in his recent statements other than the blind pursuance of the denigration of Gibraltar notwithstanding all the evidence to the contrary."

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