Who said those tax havens don’t care what the rest of the world thinks about them? Apparently, some do.

Four countries were removed from the “black list” and placed on the “grey list” – the creativity of those financial minds is breathtaking, is it not? – after committing to international standards on bank information disclosure. The four countries were Uruguay, Costa Rica, Malaysia and the Philippines. Switzerland and Luxembourg have indicated that they would also move towards international data transparency standards.

The lists were published just days after the G20 summit in London wrapped up. International standards of bank information exchange were a top priority at the summit.

Raising eyebrows on the list was a shift to the “white list” for China.
Chinese President Hu Jintao had been active in discussions regarding the OECD, despite concerns that some countries had about what appeared to be a lack of commitment from Hong Kong.

With such powerhouse banking centers making concessions, it seems that the crackdowns are working. But is it all just temporary?

When the Asian markets fell into trouble years ago, the OECD focused on these tax havens, attracting support from nations like the US and the UK. However, the issue lost momentum once the financial markets picked back up. It seems that where the rich stash their cash seems to matter most when other dollars (and Euro) are tight. Once, however, economies rebound, it doesn’t seem to be an issue. Will this time be different? It actually might. In the past, banking secrecy stalwarts have steadfastly refused to cooperate. But with indications that nations like Switzerland and Costa Rica are willing to make changes, maybe this time, it will stick.

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney and tax writer.

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