France, Singapore to sign tax accord: minister


France and Singapore will sign a treaty allowing the exchange of information on taxpayers, a French minister said Friday.

French Budget Minister Eric Woerth said the accord would be signed later this year and allow for the exchange of information on citizens suspected of hiding money in each other’s banking systems.

“If we think that there’s a fraud problem (involving a French citizen), we can inform the Singaporean government that the person has a hidden account with a bank in Singapore,” he told AFP in an interview during a visit here.

“It’s impossible now… (but) this agreement allows for the exchange of information on residents to fight fraud.”

Woerth said the agreement would be based on standards drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which groups the world’s leading developed nations, including France.

Singapore, a regional financial centre with strict bank secrecy laws, was among 38 countries and territories listed by the OECD for not fully implementing global standards aimed at eliminating tax havens.

The list includes Belgium, Brunei, Chile, the Netherlands Antilles, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Switzerland and Caribbean island nations including the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, among others.

Singapore needs to sign tax accords with 12 countries in order to be removed from the list, and an accord with France can speed up process, Woerth said.

In April Singapore said it plans to amend its tax laws this year in order to be removed from the list.

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