Samoa denies dirty money claims

Samoa is complying with all international tax requirements, according to the body which polices the nation’s offshore finance industry, following the release of the controversial Pandora Papers that exposed a range of global tax havens.

The report filled with millions of worldwide leaked documents has found corruption and uncovered financial secrets of governments, former world leaders and current politicians, extending further to fugitives, con artists and even murderers.

Sieni Tualega – Voorwinden, Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa International Finance Authority. Source: Facebook

But the head of the Samoa International Financial Authority says the small Pacific island nation has been unfairly victimised in the ensuing media coverage since the leaks were exposed last week.

Chief executive Sieni Tualega-Voorwinden defended Samoa’s offshore finance industry.

“Much of the matters raised in the media reports are historical and go back to events that took place in the 1980s and 1990s,” she said in a statement.

“There have been significant and appropriate regulatory developments since then.”

Samoa featured in the Pandora Papers because of the operations of one of its 14 offshore finance firms.

Documents show how Asiaciti’s founder, Australian accountant Graeme Briggs, assisted high-risk clients keep their private finances out of public view in a location that has a 0 per cent tax rate for international companies and tight secrecy provisions.

Ms Tualega-Voorwinden denied any illegal involvement with Asiaciti and said its international tax laws had legitimately contributed around $WST400 million tala ($A200 million) since independence in 1962.

Samoa has also signed up to tax transparency measures, rated largely compliant by the OECD global forum on exchange of information for tax purposes, as well as meeting international requirements for the prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing.

“The effect is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to channel illegal activities through Samoa,” the statement said.

“It is unfair and wrong to victimise Samoa by implication as to the alleged activities as widely reported in the media, particularly when Asiaciti has its head office in Singapore and many other offices other than in Samoa.”

Cook Islands was briefly mentioned in the Pandora Papers over providing asset protection of trusts for its clients so to keep assets financially safe should the beneficiaries hit any legal hurdles.

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