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24th Feb 2024

Sarkozy threatens to renounce Andorra title

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened to renounce his title of co-prince of Andorra if the tiny country does not change its secretive banking laws, a government minister confirmed on Thursday (26 March).

The Principality of Andorra, a miniscule territory squeezed between France and Spain in the Pyrenees, has been jointly ruled by the two countries since it was established centuries ago.

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  • Mr Sarkozy has been co-prince of Andorra since he became president of France in 2007 (Photo: European Parliament - Audiovisual Unit)

The French president and Spain's Bishop Joan Enric Vives Sicilia are the current co-princes of Andorra, which is currently on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD) blacklist of "non-co-operative" financial centres, or, in other words, tax havens.

"He [Nicolas Sarkozy] said he would renounce his title of co-prince of Andorra if all countries that practise these tax haven mechanisms do not behave themselves," French minister for family affairs, Nadine Morano, said on the i-Télé television channel.

Ms Morano was referring to comments made by Mr Sarkozy on Wednesday to deputies from his UMP party.

Participants at that meeting later reported him as saying: "I want a list of tax havens and I want them to be sanctioned. I don't want banks to keep working with the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and Macao. Otherwise, I will resign from my post of co-prince of Andorra."

"Monaco has to align as well: I will talk to Prince Albert. Even Switzerland gave in," he added, according to Le Monde.

Under considerable international pressure, Andorra said earlier this month that it would lift its banking secrecy in cases when accords on interchange of tax data apply, promising a law by November.

Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria and Belgium earlier this month received assurances by the EU they would not be included in the OECD blacklist after they too agreed to comply with the organisation's rules on the exchange of tax information.

The issue is to be discussed during a G20 meeting in London on 2 April, where the EU - France and Germany in particular - will push for a stronger offensive against tax havens in the wake of the global financial crisis.

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