Prime Minister Meets with OECD Secretary General & President of the FATF

Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham continues a series of high level discussions in European capitals connected to efforts by The Bahamas to be removed from the adverse listings of the financial services sector by Committees of the industrialised countries — the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and the Financial Stability Forum (FSF).

It is in the interest of The Bahamas to avoid the imposition of coordinated defensive measures planned by OECD countries against non-cooperative financial centres.

The Prime Minister, accompanied to Paris by Minister of Finance, the Hon. Sir William Allen; Minister of Economic Development, the Hon. Carl Bethel; Mr. Mike Smith, Paliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister; Ambassador of The Bahamas to France, H.E. Mr. Basil O’Brien; Permanent Secretary, Ms. M. Teresa Butler; Under Secretary, Mr. David Davis from the Office of the Prime Minister; and by international legal counsel, met with Mr. Donald Johnston, Secretary-General of the OECD at their Headquarters in Paris, France on Monday, 18 September. The OECD delegation also included Mr. Jeffrey Owens, Head of the Fiscal Affairs Division and Ms. Francis Horner, Head of the Tax Competition Unit in the Fiscal Affairs Division.

On Wednesday, 20 September, the Prime Minister and his delegation met with Mr. Jose Maria Roldan Algra, President, and Mr. Patrick Moulette, Executive Secretary of the FATF.

The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction on the substance and tenor of his meeting with the OECD. In seeking to have the OECD clearly define action required of The Bahamas to ensure its exclusion from the list of harmful tax jurisdictions to be released by the Organisation in June 2001, the Prime Minister emphasised the interest and willingness of The Bahamas to accept and fully comply with the same international standards required to be observed by all OECD countries and other cooperating financial services jurisdictions.

The OECD delegation noted the significant steps which The Bahamas had recently initiated toward complying further with international best practices, particularly in the area of legislative amendments foreshadowed in Parliament, and proffered the view that The Bahamas appeared to be near a position where it would satisfy the criteria for not being considered a harmful tax jurisdiction. An OECD press announcement released in the Financial Times September 25 confirmed the Organisation’s intention to speed up talks with affected international financial jurisdictions so as to remove the damaging uncertainty which, as a result of the adverse listing, pervades the business and investment climate in jurisdictions listed as possible targets for sanctions by OECD member states.

Secretary General Johnston thanked the Prime Minister for his personal interest in the matter and observed that his presence in Paris was taken as an indication of the seriousness of The Bahamas in its cooperation as an important international financial centre which seeks to subscribe to international best practices.

In Madrid, the Prime Minister sought to obtain a clear understanding from the FATF on the adequacy of information considered and still under review by the FATF which led to The Bahamas’ undeserved listing as an uncooperative jurisdiction in the international anti-money laundering effort. The Bahamas is concentrating its efforts on ensuring that information made available to the FATF Secretariat on anti-money laundering processes in The Bahamas is, in fact, considered by the Plenary Session of the Task Force in October so that the deliberations scheduled for next month are more fully informed than those which led to the June listings.

The Prime Minister has also continued meetings with heads of major international banks headquartered in European capitals with significant operations in The Bahamas.

The Prime Minister this week led The Bahamas delegation to IMF/World Bank meetings in Prague, Czech Republic. Prior to the opening of the meetings, the Prime Minister participated in a breakfast meeting hosted by Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin and attended by CARICOM Prime Ministers Own Arthur of Barbados, Sir James Mitchell of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Denzel Douglas of St. Kitts and Nevis, and regional Finance Ministers.

At the end of this week, the Prime Minister will resume his strategic discussions and meetings with banking institutions, the Basel Committee on Bank Supervision, the Financial Stability Forum, the Swiss Federal Banking Commission and the Minister of Finance of Switzerland. Following Switzerland, the Prime Minister moves on to the Netherlands for meetings with the Minister of Finance and a financial institution. The Prime Minister’s itinerary concludes with meetings in London with financial institutions and the Financial Services Authority, prior to his return to the capital in mid October.

September 27, 2000
Bahamas Information Services