Mr. Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration within the [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development](http://www.oecd.org) (OECD) yesterday in The Bahamas addressed an Industry Forum hosted by the Bahamas Financial Services Board and the Association of International Banks & Trust Companies. The OECD Official was in town for meetings with the Prime Minister and other relevant Cabinet Ministers. He confirmed statements made back in June that the “Blacklist” published by the European Union was not an initiative of the OECD, and that the inclusion of The Bahamas was unfair.
On 17 June, the EU Commission released an “Action Plan for Fair and Efficient Corporate Taxation in the EU”. As a first step in what it termed “Further Progress on Tax Transparency”, the Commission had published a pan-EU-wide list of third country non-cooperative tax jurisdictions – effectively based on a series of independent national lists of member states. The Bahamas was amongst [30 IFCs](http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/gen_info/good_governance_matters/lists_of_countries/index_en.htm) so listed. The criterion used was that each featured on at least 10 ‘blacklists’ of EU member states.
Shortly afterwards, Pascal Saint-Amans and Monica Bhatia, Head of the Global Forum Secretariat issued a joint [statement](http://www.oecd.org/tax/transparency/eucommissionsannouncementonnon-cooperativejurisdictionslettertoglobalforummembers.htm) to Global Forum Members, both confirming that *“the only agreeable assessment of countries as regards their cooperation is made by the Global Forum”*. The OECD Officials also pointed out that there were countries identified in the EU exercise that were either fully or largely compliant and have committed to AEOI, sometimes even as early adopters. They pledged willingness to clarify the position of the referenced jurisdictions with regard to their compliance with the standards of the Global Forum.
And, that is exactly what was done yesterday. Mr. Saint-Amans commented on the great strides towards transparency made by this jurisdiction. *“As the OECD we are extremely happy to recognise that The Bahamas has made tremendous progress towards transparency,”* he said. *“You are largely compliant on the implementation of the existing standard, which is exchange of information on request. You have committed to the new standard, which is the exchange of information automatically, which you will implement as soon as 2018 and there is nothing else you can do for the time being.”* He added: *“You have done what you had to do and therefore it is very unfair that you end up on the blacklist – which actually is not even a list; it is just a compilation of existing lists which are inconsistent.”*
Back in June, the Bahamas Government and the private sector immediately issued public statements. The Ministry of Financial Services described the EU’s failure to account for The Bahamas’ compliance with existing international tax information exchange standards as regrettable. *“It is disappointing that The Bahamas has been placed on a European Union ‘blacklist’ of jurisdictions that have been identified as facilitating tax evasion,”* said Minister the Hon. C.V. Hope Strachan at that time. *“It is also regrettable that the EU ‘blacklist’ does not take into consideration the significant efforts and accomplishments experienced by The Bahamas in the area of tax transparency, both within the EU and globally.”*
BFSB’s CEO Aliya Allen in her statement pointed out that the EU action was inconsistent with The Bahamas’ co-operation in meeting global tax transparency standards, noting that this jurisdiction had moved, in line with the rest of the world, to adopt the OECD Standard on the Automatic Exchange of Information. She said, “*Given the full co-operation of many countries like The Bahamas on tax transparency it is highly disappointing that these types of blacklists exist today,”* Ms Allen said.
Also in June, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) described the Commission’s assertions as patently false in view of the continued efforts by CARICOM Member States to comply with the onerous and unilaterally imposed regulatory measures. See Statement [here](http://www.bfsb-bahamas.com/download/024849800.pdf).
Mr. Saint-Amans also took the opportunity at yesterday’s Industry Briefing to speak to the OECD/G20 [Base Erosion and Profit Sharing](http://www.oecd.org/tax/beps.htm) (BEPS) Project.