According to Reuters.com, the number of countries included on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development "gray list" of tax havens – who have neglected to implement international tax standards – decreased from 40 to 17 over the past 12 months. Although the OECD has hailed this report as progress in their attempt to stamp out untaxed and illicit cash flows across the world, many critics are claiming the compliance bar was set too low to make a significant impact.
The stakes are certainly high, as the signing of bilateral Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA) is the centerpiece of OECD and G20 efforts to crack down on tax havens.
The amount of money in tax havens has been estimated at $11.5 trillion by the Tax Justice Network, a respected and independent advocacy group that monitors such trends.
Spurred by public outrage over bonus-earning bankers and frauds by wealthy financiers, G20 leaders launched a campaign in April 2009 to name and shame tax havens and penalize those who failed to tighten standards and transparency.
But some say the havens are getting off lightly, and that it is more or less business as usual.