The Peer Review Report of the Legal and Regulatory Framework of The Bahamas, issued by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, indicates "The Bahamas' commitment to international standards is not in doubt".
The Government of The Bahamas has confirmed this position, saying “The Phase 1 Peer Review Report of The Bahamas has determined that The Bahamas has the necessary legal and regulatory framework in place to ensure the availability of ownership, identity and banking information; along with the requisite access to that information by The Bahamas’ Competent Authority.
The Report also determined that The Bahamas has adequate mechanisms in place to allow for exchange of information with relevant partners. The Bahamas has entered into twenty-three new tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs), since September 2009, and has implemented enabling legislation in the form of the International Tax Cooperation Act, which was passed on 1st July 2010. As such, The Bahamas has taken all steps which are necessary on its part to bring all of its TIEAs into force. The twenty-three new TIEAs are in addition to The Bahamas’ TIEA with the United States of America, which came into force in 2004”.
Paul Winder, Chairman of BFSB notes that it is a very positive sign that the progress made by the Bahamas financial services industry and the Government of The Bahamas has been recognised as being industry standard. He says, "It sends out a clear message that The Bahamas is an internationally compliant and reputable jurisdiction. Nonetheless we also recognise there is room for strategic improvement as the financial services industry continues to raise its international services and reputational benchmarks."
Wendy Warren, CEO of the Bahamas Financial Services Board, observes "Given the scope and intensity of the review, The Bahamas' commitment to international standards has been reinforced.”
She adds that the importance of each of these reports cannot be overstated. "Global financial intermediaries are risk adverse and will not hesitate to react where they form a view that a jurisdiction in which they operate fails key global governance criteria. The Bahamas has distinguished itself as having implemented this well-publicised international standard and avoided any potential repercussions associated with numerous reported weaknesses, fundamental gaps and those prevented from moving forward to Phase II."
The Government’s news release on the report went on to outline the key recommendation identified by the Global Forum, indicating that “The Government of The Bahamas has taken note of the one major area requiring improvement in the Report, which calls for greater clarity in the law with respect to the obligation on certain legal entities and arrangements to maintain accounting records. The related recommendation calls for the implementation of express obligations in the law requiring all relevant entities and arrangements (companies, trusts, partnerships, foundations, etc.) to maintain reliable accounting records, including underlying documentation, for a minimum five-year period.
“The Government of The Bahamas has noted the findings of the Report. The necessary remedial actions including amendments to the relevant legislation to address the matters raised in the Report are being dealt with.”
See Peer Review for a full copy of the Government’s new release.