DPM: “No End to OECD/EU demands”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Peter Turnquest.

The Bahamas will remain a “clean and compliant” jurisdiction regardless of how many times the nation is blacklisted, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest reinforced yesterday.

Speaking at Royal Fidelity’s Business Economic Outlook, Turnquest expressed concern that no matter how cooperative the nation is or how compliant with demands to become more strict on Commercial Entities operating in this jurisdiction, the constant complaints and the liberty to create new rules ad hoc will always come from larger countries.

“It seems as though the playing field will never be level for small territories like The Bahamas. We are participants in a global economic system, where the principle of sovereign equals is not always respected when you don’t have the political clout to enforce it,” he said. “We are seeing a lot of turmoil in the financial services sector today on account of these factors, but we can hardly call it new.

“The goalpost has constantly been shifting when it comes to assessing territories like The Bahamas, and there seems to be no end in sight.”

His comments follow the recent EU listing of The Bahamas as non-cooperative with Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT). The Bahamas is now in the process of instituting changes to the legal and regulatory regimes that govern its financial sector in direct response to demands from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and European Union criteria on tax governance.

The Minister pointed out that the United States, The European Union (EU), as well as the EU and Organization of Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) jointly have different sets of rules.

He questioned if all the entities involved were really working towards the same goals and whether it was the best way to go about achieving them.

“While The Bahamas has many shared interests with the international community, particularly as it relates to combating AML/CFT, the process of unilaterally setting rules and exporting them to other territories under threat of sanction is counter to the spirit of international cooperation in the first instance,” said Turnquest.

“We have to be real about where we sit…this is 2019 and it doesn’t matter how many blacklists pop up to unfairly stick The Bahamas on, the fact will remain: We are a clean, compliant and cooperative wealth management jurisdiction, providing competitive financial services.”

He told the room full of attendees at the Baha Mar hosted event that the nation competes on the strength of its services and the quality of its professionals.

“We eschew any and all efforts to introduce AML/CFT risk into our system,” Turnquest said. “This government is commitment to keeping up with any regulator or legislative reforms that are necessary to maintain our position as a global leader.

We have no intention of giving up any of the ground we occupy as a premier international financial centre. Investors can be assured The Bahamas will continue to be a reliable provider of sophisticated, high-quality financial services products that meet their needs.”