On Thursday, April 16, the Ministry of Financial Services and Ministry of Finance co-hosted a FATCA Industry Briefing to highlight the progress made by The Bahamas in readying itself and the financial services industry for compliance with the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) of the United States. The event was cosponsored by the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB), Association of International Banks & Trust Companies (AIBT), Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers (BACO), Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA), and the Clearing Banks Association (CBA).
Opening Remarks were provided by the Hon. C.V. Hope Strachan, M.P., Minister of Financial Services. Financial Secretary at the Ministry of Finance John Rolle followed with an update on the status of compliance under the Model I InterGovernmental Agreement signed between The Bahamas and the United States. Other sessions covered the FATCA Legislation (Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle, Director of Financial Services) and Guidance (Bill Bailey, EY), followed by sessions on the FATCA Reporting Scheme (EY / Convey Team) and FATCA Readiness (EY). The Hon. Michael Halkitis provided luncheon remarks. The Ministry of Finance had announced in March that it had formed a partnership with EY and Convey, a leading tax software provider, to design and deploy The Bahamas’ FATCA solution, which will include a secure FATCA reporting system, the establishment of The Bahamas Competent Authority and a number of other elements to effectively manage compliance with FATCA Model 1 IGA requirements.
In her opening remarks, Minister Strachan said the Ministry of Financial Services was charged with the task of spearheading the implementation of FATCA for The Bahamas. *“Through bold and aggressive engagement with the US Treasury Department, the Ministry was able to negotiate significant ‘wins’ for the Bahamian financial services industry in the ‘trustee document trust’ exemption and in certain exemptions to the ‘sponsored investment entity’ category.”* The Minister added that these exemptions eventually became standard in all FATCA agreements, but The Bahamas should be very proud that these issues were negotiated by The Bahamas Government during the FATCA workshop held in The Bahamas in 2013.
Minister Strachan noted that the global paradigm with respect to the expectation of transparency is shifting, as evidenced by FATCA, and with the Global Accounts Tax Compliance Act on the horizon. *“However, my Ministry,”* she said, *“firmly believes that it is always important to put forward the considered case of The Bahamas to the international community and to remain engaged at the table on the international financial sector policy issues. The Bahamas has developed a strong reputation for leadership in international financial sector issues and will always strive to remain at the forefront of complying with international best practices and regulatory standards.”*