Hong Kong, Singapore rise in Global Finance Secrecy rankings

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong and Singapore have increased their ranking for financial secrecy, with the Chinese territory rising to number two behind only Switzerland in a 2015 index of the world's offshore havens compiled by the Tax Justice Network.

Both Asian financial hubs have made insufficient reforms to their corporate secrecy regimes, according to the London-based TJN, which campaigns for greater transparency in finance. Singapore's ranking moved to fourth from the fifth place it held in the organization's previous index in 2013, when Hong Kong placed third.

"Singapore, in fourth place, poses many of the same threats that Hong Kong does: a lack of serious reforms to its corporate secrecy regime; a lack of interest in creating country-by-country reporting or in creating public registries of beneficial ownership," the TJN said.

The two cities each account for about 4 percent of the global market for offshore financial services, the organisation said. The hubs are well exposed to offshore flows because of rising assets under management and their status as regional financial hubs, according to the TJN.

"We do not have laws protecting bank secrecy and so we have never attracted foreign capital by such means," a spokesman for Hong Kong's Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau said in an e-mailed response to the TJN survey.

"Hong Kong has all along been highly supportive of international efforts to enhance tax transparency and combat tax evasion," the spokesman added.

The U.S. was ranked third for secrecy by the TJN for its refusal to take part in a global system for exchanging bank data created by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.