**Industry Input Invited**
The Bahamas Government is consulting with the financial services industry on an OECD document relating to international requirements and information exchange; specifically, the development of standards for the preparation of accounts, and the filing or auditing of such.
The Hon. James Smith, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, said the consultations are in line with the Government’s public commitment of dialogue with the private sector on matters which might materially affect them.
Pursuant to intensive negotiations between the Government and the OECD Secretariat, the Bahamas earlier this year agreed to enter into dialogue on a number of issues. The OECD now has submitted for review and discussion, a draft document titled “The Accounts and Filing or Auditing Requirement”, its first attempt to outline the types of measures it would expect The Bahamas and other committed jurisdictions to put in place in order to comply with the international requirements for transparency and information exchange.
Any agreement to require financial accounts to be kept by companies, partnerships, trusts, and other legal entities established or having a place of business in The Bahamas will be subject to de minimis and other exceptions (including an exception for locally owned domestic operations) to be developed together with the OECD and committed jurisdictions, i.e. through the Global Forum established to facilitate the implementation of country commitments. Any requirement to audit accounts will follow accepted international standards.
The Government has stated that it will ensure whatever is agreed by the Global Forum does not disadvantage The Bahamas in comparison to other international financial centres either within or outside the OECD group of countries. In addition, the Government does not intend to enter into any bilateral agreement unless it is in the best interests of the citizens of The Bahamas and after the appropriate consultation with the citizens of The Bahamas.
The Ministry of Finance, along with the Ministry of Financial Services & Investments, the Office of the Attorney General and industry regulators, have initiated a process of dialogue with a broad representation of the industry. The Government has said it welcomes this input from industry practitioners prior to submitting The Bahamas’ response to the OECD’s recommendations to the Bahamas Cabinet.
The Global Forum will meet next in October, in the Cayman Islands.