NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Dutch government’s inclusion of The Bahamas to its tax haven black list is “premature” and “disappointing”, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest, who said the move goes against the very tenet of the multilateral approach and common standards established by the European Union (EU).
“We are obviously always concerned when we see this kind of unilateral action,” Turnquest said in response to questions from the media during a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister.
“The fact of the matter is we have been working very hard to meet the common standard that is promulgated by the EU and OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).
“The instance of individual countries unilaterally deciding that they want to change the rules or to apply a different standard is obviously of concern to us because it goes against the very tenet of a multilateral approach to these issues.
“The European Union, of which the Netherlands is a member, has been very clear about the standard.
“We have worked very hard and diligently to meet those standards and so, it is disappointing that we get this kind of response; premature response quite frankly from the Netherlands, particularly when we do not have on record at this point, them having reached out to us to have a discussion with respect to their concerns.”
In addition to the European Union’s blacklist, the Netherlands, a prominent member of the European body, released its own list of jurisdictions it considers tax havens.
The list named five jurisdictions that were already on the EU’s blacklist and included an additional 16 jurisdictions inclusive of The Bahamas.
Other countries named that were not blacklisted by the EU included Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among others.
According to the Dutch government, those jurisdictions either had no corporation tax or have a corporation rate of tax lower than nine per cent.
Dutch State Secretary of Finance Menno Snel was quoted in several international media outlets, saying: “By drafting out our own strict blacklist, we again show that we are serious about combating tax evasion.
“And this is just one of the measures we are taking.”
The EU is expected to update its list in the first quarter of this year.
The five countries on the EU blacklist are the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, Trinidad and Tobago, American Somoa and Samoa.
Last month, Parliament passed a package of financial sector reform bills aimed at meeting more stringent requirements of international financial regulatory bodies.
The bills included: the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, the Removal of Preferential Exemptions Bill, the Commercial Entities (Substance Requirements) Bill, the Register of Beneficial Ownership Bill, and the Non-Profit Organizations Bill.
Just over two weeks ago, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) re-evaluated The Bahamas’ compliance with its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing requirements and found the country compliant with the majority of its recommendations.
The re-evaluation and increased compliance ratings are expected to stave off any sanctions from the international financial regulatory body.