Offshore Financial Centres Can Bring Benefits to the International Community

The Rt. Hon. Alderman David Howard, Lord Mayor of London, addressed the business and financial community at a luncheon jointly sponsored by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and the Bahamas Financial Services Board during his recent visit to The Bahamas.

The Bahamas was commended on changes to both its legislation and practices to counter more effectively the threat from money laundering and criminal financial activity. Also praised was the cooperation between the private financial sector and the financial supervisors. “Cooperation of this kind is a central element of our success in the City of London, and I am convinced that it will be a crucial factor in your success too”, said Alderman Howard.

The Lord Mayor took the opportunity to point out that the City of London is well aware of the importance and the attractiveness of offshore financial centers, and the benefits they can bring to the international community. He asserted that it is no part of UK or OECD policy to oppose low tax regimes, or to put them out of business. It has to be recognised, however, that “no administration can allow itself to be used with impunity as a conduit for stolen or laundered funds, and yet retain its respectability amongst the nations of the world”. Appropriate legislation was seen as critical, with equal importance given to effective implementation. The Bahamas was applauded for its determination to pursue a level playing field – in addition to international standards of transparency, good regulation and adequate supervision.

International trade in goods and services was reported to have grown 17-fold over the last 50 years, providing the great engine of global economic growth. Within this trade, the services sector is said to contribute more to worldwide economic growth and job creation than any other — and is positioned as the key to the future of the world economy.

The City of London was described as a center for advice and deal making — and proof that globalisation works. Four main reasons were credited for its success as an international business and trading centre, viz. globalisation, openness and competition, its embrace of technology, and the many universities providing a broad knowledge base.

The Lord Mayor said a transparent market place attracts the best quality of international investors, allowing a more open and efficient world economy — and a more stable financial system. The Bahamas, with its sound legal system, political stability, and record of success was encouraged to be at the forefront of international cooperation.