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Faced with the biggest money laundering case in history, Costa Rica denies being a tax haven

May 28, 2013

Costa Rica on Monday appeared on a blacklist of 17 tax havens released by the French government, the daily newspaper Le Monde reported.

Coincidentally, the report was published just before the U.S. government unsealed a three-count indictment against naturalized Costa Ricans for operating a $6 billion alleged money laundering business out of the southwestern San José suburbs of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s Finance Ministry reacted to the Le Monde story by issuing a press release emphatically stating the country “is not part of the [French government’s] blacklist.” The Costa Rican government pointed out that France’s report cites a statement by Laurente Estrade, Chief Mission for Central Economic Services of France, who said, “As of Jan. 1, 2012, Costa Rica was removed from the list of non-cooperative countries published by the government of France regarding fiscal transparency in countries and territories.” 

Last year, Costa Rica’s finance minister at the time, Fernando Herrero, announced the country was removed from France’s blacklist, quoting a note signed by French Ambassador to Costa Rica Fabrice Delloye, saying, “Costa Rica no longer appears on the French list of uncooperative states and territories on tax matters.”

The listing would mean Costa Rica is excluded as a candidate for aid from the French Development Agency.

The list published by Le Monde includes Botswana, Brunei, Costa Rica, Dominica, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, Guatemala, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Montserrat, Nauru, Niue, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vanuatu.

French Minister of Sustainable Development Pascal Canfin said that the composition of the list is the result of a report by the Finance Ministry last year, related to the standards set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

This week, Costa Rica’s Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González is scheduled to submit Costa Rica’s application to join the OECD.

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