Sears: Bahamas in ‘untenable’position with international tax evasion and money laundering entities

Sears: Bahamas in ‘untenable’position with international tax evasion and money laundering entities
Alfred Sears QC.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS- A former Attorney General yesterday reiterated calls for The Bahamas to challenge the ‘legitimacy’ of international entities such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), stating, “Asking them how high we should jump is a not a solution.”

Alfred Sears QC told Eyewitness News Online, “My view is that we are faced with an untenable situation where the jurisdictions with whom we are competing which have onshore financial centers are members of the European Union (EU) and OECD are serving as the regulators of our financial flows globally through the FATF and also with respect to tax competition globally.

We are being regulated globally by our competitors therefore the application of the rules with respect to anti-money laundering as well as tax competition tend to be disproportionately in favor of onshore financial centres.”

Sears added, “I advocate that the only way the Bahamian government can protect this jurisdiction and the financial services sector is to challenge the legitimacy of ad hoc bodies such as the FATF and the OECD. We should call for the convening of a global forum and we agitate for the convening of a UN adminsitetted process where we establish an international treaty under the supervision of the United States to regulate anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.”

Last week France announced that it had added The Bahamas to its blacklist of tax havens, a move which received strong criticism from the government. In Parliament last week Deputy prime Minister K Peter Turnquest expressed his total disgust over France’s decision to blacklist The Bahamas. Anguilla, Virgin Islands and Seychelles were also added to its blacklist.

Sears suggested that The Bahamas form alliances with other international financial centres and use international law and the United Nations (UN) to advocate for a global authoritative mechanism that is both fair and transparent.

“Simply running to Brussels and asking them high we should jump is not a solution. They will never be satisfied until The Bahamas is out of financial services. They realize they cannot compete with low tax jurisdictions as The Bahamas which act as a magnet for their nationals. The most egregious cases of money laundering and the financing of terrorism have been documented onshore in places such as New York, London and Paris,” said Mr Sears.

He added, “I think what is required is a regional and international response. I think the Bahamas in collaboration with Caricom should call together all the offshore financial centres in the world and constitute a block to call for the conveying of an international convention at the United Nations. This issue should be put under the supervision of the United States where all the countries will have an opportunity to sit around the table and be heard. There should be special working committees to ensure we have a global authoritative mechanism that is transparent most importantly fair.”