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France to ask OECD to add Panama to tax haven list

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin (file)
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin (file) AFP photo/Thomas Samson

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday that France wants the OECD to place Panama on its blacklist of tax havens.The French request is among the latest developments arising since reports by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists alleged that top officials and deal makers around the world hid wealth through secret offshore companies.

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Speaking to Europe 1 radio, Sapin said, "I want the OECD to meet so that the same decision [as France] is taken by all the countries concerned."

Sapin had told parliament on Tuesday that France would put Panama back on its list of "uncooperative countries."

"Unfortunately Panama has a bit of a tendency to make u-turns, to play the good guy and then the bad guy," said Sapin. "This cannot go on." The French finance minister said France "must not be alone" in putting the Central American nation back on a "tax haven" list, adding, "it has to be a general move."

Panama's government has threatened that it could hit back if France took the step, by taking measures including blocking foreign investment or withholding public tenders.

Alvaro Aleman, Panama's minister for the presidency, a post equivalent to that of a prime minister, told a news conference on Tuesday, "In Panama, there is a law that sets out retaliation measures against countries that include Panama in 'grey lists'." Those measures can include blocking foreign investment or withholding public tenders. Aleman further said his government would have to analyze the situation and was "inclined to take a series of steps that naturally could go towards adopting means of retaliation".

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