Seychelles sends high-level delegation to Global Forum Peer Review Meeting in Luxembourg |25 February 2020
A high-level delegation headed by the secretary of state for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Patrick Payet, left Seychelles during the weekend to attend the 34thOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development global forum peer review group meeting, being held from February 25-29, 2020 in Luxembourg.
The meeting is being organised by the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) global forum on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes and hosted by the Ministry of Finance of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
The delegation comprises representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning; Financial Services Authority; Seychelles Revenue Commission; Financial Intelligence Unit; Central Bank of Seychelles; Attorney General’s Office; and Office of the Registrar General.
The delegation will have to defend the Seychelles exchange of information on request peer review report. The report analyses the implementation of the international standard of transparency and exchange of information on request in Seychelles following the second-round review conducted by the global forum. It assesses both the legal and regulatory framework in force and the practical implementation of the framework, including exchange of information requests received and sent during the review period of July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018.
The assessors have identified two main deficiencies in the regulatory framework, which the Seychelles authorities are currently working to address through legislative amendments before the end of March 2020:
- The definitions of beneficial owners in the current Act are not fully in line with the standard. The government has put forward a new Beneficial Ownership Bill, which is before the National Assembly and will be discussed during the first week of March 2020. The new definition in the proposed Bill is as per the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and OECD requirement.
The Beneficial Ownership Bill requires all legal persons and legal arrangements to maintain a register of beneficial owners, at the principal place of business of its resident agent. The law enforcement agencies and any competent authority will be entitled to request the beneficial ownership information from the resident agent.
The Financial Intelligence Unit shall maintain the Seychelles Beneficial Ownership database by populating information reported by the legal persons or legal arrangements, through their resident agent. The Bill specifies that the minimum threshold for identifying the beneficial owners of legal persons shall be ten percent of ownership and also introduces a penalty in the event the resident agent fails to maintain a beneficial ownership register and intentionally provides false or misleading information.
- The availability of accounting information for companies operating in the offshore sector has been ineffective. In line with the internationally accepted standards of best practices, the current legislation requires the International Business Companies (IBCs) to keep their accounting information, either in, or outside of Seychelles, and in cases where it is kept outside of Seychelles, the address has to be known by the registered agent in Seychelles. Despite the legislative framework being in line with the standards, in practice, the availability of accounting information remains a concern. This is especially for cases where accounting information of struck off IBCs are maintained outside Seychelles, where there is no obligation on IBCs to make available such information to their registered agent or supervisory authority in Seychelles. Hence, the government will propose amendments to the current legislations and make it a requirement for all IBCs to keep accounting information in Seychelles, through their respective registered agent.
The National Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Committee (NAC) has also created a sub-technical committee for exchange of information to ensure better domestic coordination and collaboration between the Seychelles Revenue Commission (being the competent authority for exchange of information for tax purposes) and all relevant domestic competent authorities.
During the week in Luxembourg, the delegation will be meeting with the French authorities to discuss progress that Seychelles has made with regards to the requests for information from the French authorities. The delegation will also be meeting with the representatives from the European Union to discuss work that Seychelles is doing to implement the legislative amendments before end of March 2020. Other bilateral meetings have also been scheduled with other countries to show Seychelles’ commitment to comply with international standards.
The delegation is expected back in Seychelles on March 1, 2020.
Contributed by the Ministry of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning