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Singapore Law Minister K Shanmugam on Tuesday said the city-state would not allow unwarranted financial investigations in the fight against cross-border tax evasion, even after it had implemented the international standard on tax information set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
“We do not see ourselves as a haven for laundered money,” the minister told a conference. “We play an active role in the global fight against financial crimes.”
However, implementing the OECD standard and signing bilateral tax agreements incorporating the rules would not mean that Singapore would approve fishing expeditions in the search for tax evaders, he said.
“Spurious requests and fishing expeditions will not be entertained,” said Shanmugam.
“The request for information has to be specific, detailed and relevant to the tax affairs of the tax payer in question,” he added.
Following international pressure, Singapore’s parliament on Monday passed a bill that will align the city-state’s tax law with the OECD standard and bring it a step closer to being included on the OECD’s white list of states who fully comply with the rules.
Singapore had been put on a “grey list” by OECD as a state committed to the international standard but not yet substantially implementing it.
Singapore so far has formally signed 11 bilateral agreements in line with the OECD standards and needs to sign one more to get on the “white list.”
OECD’s black, grey and white lists are based on the willingness of countries to adhere to its standards.