The Bahamas in two decade long battle with “moving target” to avoid blacklisting, laments former finance minister

The Bahamas in two decade long battle with “moving target” to avoid blacklisting, laments former finance minister

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas, for the past 23 years, has been battling with a “moving target” in its efforts to avoid blacklisting, according to a former finance minister, who also noted individuals in developed countries do not have to contend with the same rigorous scrutinies of “know your customer” requirements as this nation.

Zhivargo Laing, Executive Director and Senior Policy Fellow at the Government and Public Policy Institute at the University of the Bahamas (GPPI), while speaking at the Institue’s Global Interdependence Center Conference, stated: “Every year, we wonder which list we are on today, and what color we are painted today. It poses a challenge for both the public policymakers and the private sector individuals who strive to serve their clients. That’s where we stand today.”

Laing argued that this isn’t an issue being pushed by policymakers in the developed world but instead by technocrats.

“There has to be an exchange where the world sees us differently than they have been accustomed to. We are not just a tourist destination; we happen to be a sophisticated group of people with expert professionals striving to create a modern economy that isn’t solely reliant on tourism,” said Laing.

“I could go to the US and open a bank account in 20 minutes. That is impossible to do here, even as a former Minister of Finance. It’s even more challenging because of my political exposure. My bank asked me for information to ‘know your customers.’ I said I have been your customer for 20 years.

“We endure rigors and scrutiny in our financial jurisdiction that most developed countries do not. Yet, some technocrats will say that these people are unsophisticated.

“It’s not because they’re malicious; it’s because they’re ignorant. They don’t know,” Laing said.