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Bahamas avoids EU blacklist

The Bahamas was spared from being blacklisted as a tax haven in the European Union’s (EU) December 2017 blacklist after months of waiting and speculation. This country, however, is still not yet clear of the danger of joining the list.

While The Bahamas was not named on the blacklist, the EU placed eight jurisdictions on watch that were impacted “badly” by hurricanes this summer, including The Bahamas. The EU said that these jurisdictions, which were given special consideration, have been given until early 2018 to respond to the EU’s concerns, suggesting that there is still work to be done.

The EU also pointed out that special consideration was given to the situation of developing countries.

“Least developed countries without financial centers were automatically excluded from the screening process, while other developing countries without financial centers were given more time to address their shortcomings,” the EU said.

Speaking at a Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants seminar yesterday, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said that, so far, The Bahamas seems to be “escaping” a blacklist, gray list, or “any other kind of list”.

“We are very grateful for that,” he said.

“There is a lot of hard work and a lot of things going on behind the scenes to ensure that we remain known as a well-regulated and cooperative jurisdiction.”

As The Bahamas continues to move quickly to avoid being blacklisted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Turnquest said that a series of bills will be debated in Parliament today to help facilitate the cooperation of The Bahamas as a financial jurisdiction.

These bills include the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Amendment Bill, 2017, Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Amendment Regulations, 2017 and the International Tax Cooperation Amendment Bill, 2017.

In addition, The Bahamas has been preparing to meet the OECD’s minimum requirements for compliance with base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) protocols. This has to be a commitment made by the country before the end of the year.

Turnquest, along with Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette are expected to travel to Europe within the next two weeks to sign the multilateral agreement.

Turnquest said he would be using that opportunity to outline and explain to the OECD the government’s “willingness” to be transparent.

But until these steps are taken, The Bahamas remains under heavy scrutiny.

The EU also assured that the list would be updated at least once a year.

“This update will be based on the continuous monitoring of listed jurisdictions, as well as those that have made commitments to improve their tax systems,” the EU explained.

“Depending on developments, member states may also decide to screen even more countries in 2018.

“An interim report will be prepared by mid-2018 to assess progress made.”

Overall, the EU named 17 states in its tax haven blacklist for this year and put a further 47 states on notice.

Some states on the blacklist are Barbados, Grenada, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Samoa and Tunisia.

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