Government committed to complying with the minimum standards under the OECD

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Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest.

NASSAU, Bahamas — Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest said the Government is committed to complying with the four minimum standards under the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) and the G20’s Base-Erosion and Profit Shifting Project (BEPS).

“To this end, the Multinational Entities Financial Reporting Act, 2018 was passed and related legislation is being considered. The jurisdiction must address, for example, accessibility of beneficial owner information, which it aims to accomplish via the Register of Beneficial Owners Bill, 2018,” DPM Turnquest explained at the Securities Industry Act, 2011 and Investment Funds Act, 2003 Industry Briefing held at Baha Mar Resort, Thursday, September 27, 2018.

He said the financial industry in the country should be getting a new Investment Funds Bill soon and there are also amendments to the Securities Industry Act in the pipeline.

The Acting Prime Minister said the good news is that Bahamians are adapters and survivors at heart with a spirit of resilience and an inspired can-do attitude to the shifting goal posts in regards to regulations of the financial industry. “Our financial services industry has already revoked the doomsday prophecies of 2000s, when naysayers gave us a few years at best before we had to close shop.”

He noted that The Bahamas is a nation governed by the rule of law, and is a financial services industry with financial institutions and professionals who are, by-and-large, committed to lawful business practices and legitimate clients.

“We therefore must have excellent standards and practices in place and both be compliant and be recognized for being compliant with those standards and the evidence of this continues to mount.”

Acting Prime Minister Turnquest explained that the country received a largely compliant rating for rounds one and two of its Exchange of Information on Request peer reviews.

He said The Bahamas is Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act compliant. “The Bahamas signed onto, and in the process of exchanging information under the Common Reporting Standard, Mutual Competent Authority Agreement model.”

He said The Bahamas is a member of the Inclusive Framework on the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Sharing with the global forum reporting no harmful tax regimes in place.

The Acting Prime Minister said since its first Tax Exchange Information Agreement with the United States, The Bahamas is now party to 34 Tax Information Exchange Agreements with various jurisdictions.

He noted that the Securities Commission since 2012, has been an “A” signatory to IOSCO’s MMoU governing information exchange in relation to cross-border securities crimes, and is poised to be a global leader as one of the first adopters of the Enhanced MMoU.

The Acting Prime Minister Turnquest said despite the shifting goal posts in financial industry regulations, some things remain constant and the country’s response must be strategic.

He noted that being strategic also requires a deep understanding of the industry understand the nation’s industries, and related to this, excel in collecting, analyzing and applying pertinent data and information.

“We must be excellent. We have not survived thus far because we are a small, offshore jurisdiction. Rather, we have survived because of the things that we do very well as a small, offshore jurisdiction.”

The Acting Prime Minister explained, “For example, ours may well be the best Trust legislation in the world, and we have manifested a capacity for transformative innovation, such as we have seen with the SMART Fund and the Investment Condominium.”

He said The Bahamas must offer value to clients and always be about the business of enhancing the value-add this jurisdiction offers.

“We talk a lot about shifting goal posts, but we can also talk about how our pursuit of them, while arduous, has transformed and is transforming the reputation of our jurisdiction.

Acting Prime Minister Turnquest said, “In our response to these obstacles, we demonstrate that we are serious about carving out our niche, and that there are many sound reasons for offshore clients to turn to The Bahamas to conduct their financial affairs.