On behalf of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Prime Minister Ingraham issued a statement today on the OECD’s Standards on Transparency and Tax Information Exchange:
*”The Commonwealth of The Bahamas notes significant recent progress towards the adoption of standards on tax transparency and information exchange set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).*
*”The Bahamas reaffirms its commitment recorded in a March 2002 agreement between The Bahamas and the OECD.**
*”The Bahamas recognises significant advances in commitments to broader application of OECD standards of transparency. The Bahamas is ready to negotiate and conclude appropriate arrangements to accommodate these OECD standards.”*
The Prime Minister earlier in the day had addressed the matter in the Parliament at which time he noted the recent financial and other media reports about the efforts of OECD governments to require greater standards of transparency and exchange of information between countries, most especially countries offering or providing financial services. And, the support given to these efforts by the wider group of countries that make up the G-20.
Prime Minister Ingraham pointed out that many countries have indicated their adoption of the greater standards being required and soon to be applied by the OECD for transparency and exchange of information. He reaffirmed the position of the Government that The Bahamas will be a responsible member of the international community and a responsible financial services centre that would not be used for *“harmful financial practices”.*
On the OECD, Parliamentarians took note that The Bahamas’ position on the issue of accepting international standards promoted by the OECD was a matter of public record, as contained in a letter of agreement signed in 2002.
*”My Government is satisfied that much progress has been made toward the establishment of the “level playing field” which we sought in 2002. It is clear that the OECD standards of transparency and exchange of information are being accepted by OECD member countries and by those non-member jurisdictions which provide financial services similar to those provided in The Bahamas.”*
In that context, the Prime Minister said it was appropriate that The Bahamas takes the opportunity, as the OECD and G-20 countries meet in London next month, to reaffirm its commitments to international standards of transparency and exchange of information as accepted by and applied to all member countries of the OECD and to the majority of financial centres.
Financial transparency in the Bahamas is required by legislation and regulation. In particular, the laws of The Bahamas provide for effective access by Bahamian regulators and law enforcement authorities to financial information for all local companies, trusts and other structures. The rules also provide for government access to beneficial ownership information in respect of all client relationships and structures maintained in The Bahamas financial services sector.