Industry News


The Cook Islands - Meeting International Regulatory Standards

2016 November: The Cook Islands is complying with its international obligations in relation to anti money laundering and the countering of terrorist financing and transparency and the exchange of financial information to combat tax evasion. It continues to work with international organisations such as the FATF and the OECD as it is committed to providing financial services in accordance with international standards and best practice.

The following summarises the Cook Islands achievements to date in meeting international regulatory standards.

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The Cook Islands signs the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters

2016 November: On 28 October 2016 Andrew Haigh, of the Revenue Management Division of the Cook Islands Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, signed the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (the “Convention”) on behalf of the Cook Islands government.

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FATF Gives Guidance on Correspondent Banking Services

2016 October: In response to concerns of global leaders, including the G20, about a need for further clarification of regulatory expectations, the FATF has approved a guidance on correspondent banking services. This guidance addresses the issue of de-risking and clarifies how money laundering and terrorist financing risks should be managed, customer-by-customer, in the context of correspondent banking relationships.

The FATF has recognised the important role that correspondent banking services have in the global economy and the reliance that entire sectors and regions place on them.

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Family Wealth Transfer

2016 October: According to the recently published Wealth X 2016 report on Family Wealth Transfer (the “Report”), the world’s “ultra wealthy population” (“UHNWIs”), being those individuals with a net worth of at least USD30m, has grown to 212,615 with a combined wealth of USD30 trillion. Despite continued global economic uncertainties and geopolitical events, these numbers continue to grow year on year. However what is more astounding than the levels of wealth being generated are the amounts that will be transferred to the next generations over the coming decades.

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The Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility

2016 September: In June of this year the Cook Islands passed the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility Act 2016 (the “Act”). The Act sees the formalising of many years of effort by several organisations, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, as well as certain Pacific Island states, to provide Pacific Island states with direct support to finance immediate disaster relief and advisory services on the financial management of natural disasters.

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Italy Publishes the New White List for Tax Purposes

2016 August: On 22 August 2016 the Italian Government added 51 new jurisdictions to the list of jurisdictions that it considers allow an adequate exchange of information for tax purposes with Italy (the so called “white list”). It is also providing a broad range of tax benefits to tax payers resident or established in the listed jurisdictions. The Cook Islands signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with Italy in 2011 which came into force in February 2015. It is currently regarded as cooperative with Italian exchange of information requirements and is on the white list. The most recent additions to the white list include Switzerland, Jersey, Liechtenstein, British Virgin Islands and Hong Kong.

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Capital Security Bank in the Cook Islands first for safety of deposits

2016 August: Following the UK vote to leave the European Union, and with the fallout from the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 still fresh in the minds of those who lost money held in financial institutions, people in Europe are again questioning the security of their funds deposited in banks around the world. With this in mind Christian Hirsch Biel, the Head of Wealth Structuring at BNP Paribas in Germany, has researched where clients should be depositing their funds and has named Capital Security Bank as one of the six preferred options.

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The OECD's Global Tax Transparency Forum Phase 2 Peer Review Process Continues

2016 July: The OECD’s Global Tax Transparency Forum Phase 2 peer review process continues with Switzerland, the world’s largest financial centre in terms of funds under custody, having now attained the rating of “largely compliant”.The Cook Islands attained the same rating in March 2015.

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The New Zealand Government Inquiry into Foreign Trust Disclosure Rules is Released

2016 July: The New Zealand Government Inquiry into Foreign Trust Disclosure Rules was released on the 27 June 2016. Following the leak of information (known as the Panama Papers) from the Mossack Fonseca firm in April this year. The New Zealand Government appointed John Shewan to carry out a complete review of New Zealand’s rules concerning the disclosure of information required in relation to foreign trusts..

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Global Island News Article

2016 May: Tamatoa Jonassen, CEO of the Cook Islands Financial Services Development Authority was recently featured by Global Island News in an article titled "A Bridge to Financial Safety in a World of Turmoil" available in the May 2016 edition of Global Island News or online here.

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