**Rowena Bethel, Legal Advisor
Ministry of Finance**

Comments emerging over the past 12 months from the multilateral organs G-7, G-20, and OECD have sought to focus attention on International Financial Centres. Rowena Bethel, Legal Advisor and Government representative to the OECD Global Tax Forum and UN Tax Experts, will open the **2009 Bahamas Financial Services Retreat** with an overview of these recent developments, giving attention to the work underway that seeks to bring the IFCs into the fray.

The Retreat will begin on January 23rd.

Wendy Warren, CEO & Executive Director, says the key questions that BFSB expects to see answered during the Opening Session will include what the key developments among competitors are; what geo-political dynamics are impacting the business of financial services; and how the profile of the Bahamas International Financial Centre’s clients is changing, both from the institutional and individual client perspectives.

**Jacob Rigg, Head of Policy for STEP Worldwide**, will also be one of the featured speakers. Mr. Rigg is public policy advocate specialising in several areas – taxation, financial regulation, competition and trade. BFSB has invited him to provide an overview of STEP’s IFC activities vis a vis the various international financial centre initiatives.

The expected output of this session will be an understanding of how other IFCs are responding to specific initiatives, and an analysis of strategic options such as positioning, including alliances, the opportunities for influence, and managing public opinion.

The BFS Retreat was established as an annual event on BFSB’s calendar to provide the opportunity for stakeholders of the industry to engage in discussions on key drivers impacting the sector and for the ongoing nurturing of public/private sector collaboration. The 2009 Retreat will be held at Our Lucaya, in Freeport, Grand Bahama.