Put Gibraltar's finance centre in the OECD BLACK LIST says Spain

Spain wants the Gibraltar finance centre to be put on the OECD 'black list'. This is because, according to the Spanish Treasury, Gibraltar continues to be "opaque, inaccessible and impenetrable."

This is the thrust of a surprise attack on Gibraltar carried by the daily El Pais. Cooperation with Gibraltar has not advanced as regards fiscal and tax matters, says a spokesman of the Spanish Treasury.

And the information Gibraltar makes available is said to be limited and of little use. The Spanish Treasury thinks that other fiscal paradises like Jersey, those in the Caribbean 'and even Andorra' have provided more ?information when it comes to fighting money laundering.

The question of financial services is one of the topics down for discussion in the much-trumpeted Trilateral Forum. But the Spanish tax department is evidently not satisfied, it is said.

However there is cooperation with police matters in the persecution of an offence, with much of the cooperation taking place in an "underhand" kind of way.

But when there is a request for information on companies, bank current accounts or lawyers offices, the cooperation disappears, a Spanish police source is quoted as saying. This is because this is an area prohibited even to the Gibraltar police, it is claimed.

The report goes back to the old stories of Gibraltar being a small place and having so many companies, banks, insurance intermediaries etc, "as well as 115 lawyers and 28 legal firms whose activity is outside the supervision of the financial authorities."

While the financial activity of fiscal paradises is of a global nature, the experts (including those of the International Monetary Fund) point out that Gibraltar has a "particular and risky" area of influence, as is southern Spain, the Costa del Sol and northern Africa, given activities related to money laundering, property, corruption and drug trafficking.

And to top it all, it adds, Gibraltar has become in recent years a favourite place for the main internet betting companies, "which worries the experts in the fight against the laundering of dirty money," it is claimed.

All this financial web remains opaque for Spanish institutions. Because of its good intentions, Gibraltar has managed to be considered as a 'cooperative' fiscal paradise. But the reality is that the Spanish Treasury has not received any useful information from Gibraltar, which is considered as a non-cooperative centre.

The Spanish author of a book on finance centres says that Gibraltar is governed by "an oligarchy", with the finger being pointed at lawyers.

The report goes on to quote from a Spanish parliamentary answer which said that as regards the 'Operaci?n Ballena Blanca' there has not been any type of cooperation with the Gibraltarian or British authorities.

This operation was to do with alleged money laundering in Marbella.

And the lack of cooperation from Gibraltar is again cited in respect of investigations on money laundering, tobacco smuggling and fraud. A specific attempt at cooperation, about companies incorporated in Gibraltar and serving to defraud the Spanish treasury on tax matters, appears to have come to nothing after 3 years, it is reported.

There is reference to Spain having sought assistance from Gibraltar through the Spanish Foreign Ministry, adding that "the UK is responsible for the external relations of the non self-governing territory of Gibraltar."

Official requests, such as commissions rogatoire, were sent via the Gibraltar office in the British Foreign Office. This process could not be used by Gibraltar as pretext for the not replying to such requests.

Questioned about this whole issue, a spokesman for the Spanish Foreign Ministry, using soft diplomatic terminology, said that "at present there has been an improved grade of cooperation with Gibraltar, but not much."

The Spanish paper adds that it has tried to interview the head of the financial intelligence unit or a spokesman of the financial services commission, but their request was referred to the spokesman of the Caruana government, with no reply received.