The Bahamas was added to the European Union (EU) blacklist of tax havens on Tuesday.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest called the move “regrettable”.
In a statement Tuesday, the finance minister said the decision was made “without discussion” but he remains hopeful that the country will be removed from the listing “in the shortest time possible.”
On Saturday, Turnquest and Brent Symonette, minister of financial services, travelled to Europe to plead The Bahamas’ case against being added to the list.
Turnquest suggested he was blindsided by the EU’s decision, as The Bahamas has been consistently engaged with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the EU’s Code of Conduct Group (COCG), on the listing criteria as recently as last week.
“The Bahamas notes the comments included on the EU’s press release, indicating a lack of commitment at the highest political levels; which is regrettable. The Bahamas government, through the Ministry of Finance, has consistently been engaged with the EU’s Code of Conduct Group and has responded to its requests,” Turnquest’s statement read.
“Prior to today’s meeting, at the level of the Deputy Prime Minister, The Bahamas reiterated its commitment by formal letter and is on schedule to meet the December 2018 deadline set by the European Council for implementation of the areas of concern indicated.”
Turnquest said The Bahamas remains committed to complying with international standards.
“The Bahamas remains committed to complying with international regulatory standards and initiatives and will continue to hold discussions with the EU to determine how we can work together to ensure a better understanding and facilitation of the process to be removed from this listing in the shortest time possible,” he said.
The Cabinet office also issued a statement supporting the dismay of the government in the recent decision, stating that the government will “redouble its efforts to ameliorate the present circumstances in an effort to preserve this important pillar of the Bahamian economy.”
The statement read, “The Bahamas is an ethical jurisdiction and the government is committed to taking progressive steps to adjust to the requirements of operating in the constantly evolving paradigm that is the financial sector.”
Blacklisted jurisdictions could face reputational damage and stricter controls on their financial transactions with the EU.