The Bahamas will be better positioned as one of the leaders in international financial services as a result of the new financial service legislation introduced by the Government during the final quarter of last year, according to Wendy Warren, CEO and Executive Director, Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB).

“The new legislation ensures The Bahamas maintains the very highest levels of conduct,” said Ms. Warren, “and that we comply with best standards to prevent the abuse of our financial system.”

She said the financial services industry embraces all of the steps taken to bring The Bahamas in line with international best practices through the introduction of regulations which enhance the regulatory and supervisory regime, and protect the reputation of the jurisdiction. “The Bahamas cannot isolate itself as an international financial center,” said Ms. Warren. “Adherence to global standards is a required and essential means to an end.”

Ms. Warren noted that the new legislation was benchmarked against practices in multiple jurisdictions. The legislation also anticipates the changing environment for international financial centers and positions The Bahamas to have a very progressive system for the conduct of business in this evolving environment.

When the legislation was introduced at the end of last year, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham predicted the banking sector would continue to grow over the long term. Developments to date indicate that the financial industry on the whole has continued to grow, influenced in part by a strong, reputable client base.

The pace of business for the incorporation of companies has declined during this phase of transition. “Whenever there is change of this nature, there also comes a period of adjustment”, notes Ms. Warren. “It is true that The Bahamas has eliminated the ability of the IBC to provide anonymity through the removal of bearer shares, and has codified in law “know your customer” regulations for financial and corporate service providers. There have, however, been some inaccurate reports relating to provisions under the new International Business Companies Act, particularly with regard to disclosure of beneficial owners. IBCs are still a flexible and legitimate vehicle for use in international business.”