Imagine. Sun, sea, sand and palm trees swaying gently in the breeze. Suddenly you’re daydreaming, imagining lying in a hammock, sipping rum punch and relaxing with not a care in the world.
This isn’t your typical introduction to an article appearing in a financial newsletter, and if you’ve now lost all motivation to work for the rest of the day, my apologies. However, the reality of it all is that, when people think of offshore jurisdictions such as The Bahamas, this is what they imagine. Of course this is still the case, but in addition people now think of the acronyms FATF, OECD, FTAA, WTO all of which have had, continue to and will have a profound effect on all offshore jurisdictions. From a Bahamian perspective, we have certainly felt the effects of these initiatives, and to date, those of the FATF and OECD in particular.
As I’m sure most of you are aware The Bahamas has introduced a package of new and/or updated legislation. This legislation which includes among others, the ‘Banks and Trust Companies Act,’ the ‘Financial Intelligence Unit Act,’ the ‘Financial Transactions Reporting Act,’ the ‘Proceeds of Crime Act,’ and the ‘International Business Companies Act’ not only ensured our removal from the FATF list, but has had many people acknowledging we have surpassed the FATF’s requirements. In this respect our position as one of the cleanest and most respected offshore jurisdictions in the world has been strengthened. However, the passing of this legislation has also lead to many criticisms from local professionals who feel the Government acted too hastily in bowing to these initiatives. Not wanting to embark on a political and economic debate on this matter, and being limited to a half page I will leave this here.
The past couple of years have been a very trying time for The Bahamas and all concerned. The new legislation has put pressure on local businesses to update KYC files in an expeditious manner to ensure compliance with the new initiatives. There is no doubt some offshore related businesses have been adversely impacted, and as such this is a time for regrouping and contemplation. On the flip side the increased KYC requirements have shown the financial world, in an emphatic voice, that we will not tolerate illegitimate business of any kind.
Now more than ever it truly is ‘Better in The Bahamas.’