Samoa P.M. responds to offshore claims

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, says banking centres in the United States and the United Kingdom want to leave offshore finance centres such as Samoa with “nothing.”

Tuilaepa made the point while responding to continued exposes of tax havens around the world by overseas media, the latest focusing on China.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Tuilaepa criticised claims made in an article published in the Samoa Observer on 27 January 2014 titled “Samoa companies invest $2 billion tala into China”.

The article quoted overseas estimates that about $2 billion tala is routed through the offshore industry here and then sent back there as investment to avoid taxes.

Tuilaepa says he read the article in question. He explains that Samoa has 30,000 registered offshore businesses.

He claims that this is a very, very small number compared to the registered offshore businesses in the British Virgin Islands.

Tuilaepa said that, by comparison, the British Virgin Islands has a million offshore registered companies.

Samoa is nothing like the British Virgin Islands “that has been doing this sort of business for a long time”.

His claims to Samoa not being a major global player in the offshore world are backed up by figures from a study showing that the “The vast majority of the almost US$70 trillion foreign financial assets are concentrated in North America, Europe and Japan.

“Areas with assets below $US50 billion are not shown for their relative insignificance in the global context,” wrote report authors Benjamin Hennig, from the University of Oxford, and Jan Fichtner, from the University of Frankfurt.

Samoa is not shown in the study, suggesting the centre here handles assets of less than US$50 billion. “Where are those billions?”, said Tuilaepa.

“There are no monies.”

Instead he said the business strategy is that companies from overseas register their businesses here in Samoa.

They are then called Samoan companies but “they don’t come here”.

Tuilaepa pointed out that these companies continue to operate in the countries where they are operating in despite it being called a Samoan company.

He said this was using your brains (ole faaogaina o le mafaufau) – what is called using your skull (ole faaogaina o le tigipoo).

“Give you $5 and call it a business from Samoa,” he said.


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