The Government has tabled in the House of Assembly amendment legislation designed to enhance and clarify the Securities Commission’s structure and responsibilities. Minister of Financial Services the Hon. C.V. Hope Strachan, M.P. said the Securities Industry (Amendment) Bill also is a step towards improving the ease of doing business in The Bahamas. *“The legislation is meant to make the hearing and settlement of matters more transparent. It removes the situation where the Securities Commission was involved in every aspect of hearing and settlement, and it will create an independent hearing panel now to be involved in that process.”* The Bill provides for the finality of an approved settlement agreement as well, although judicial review of the panel’s approval of a settlement will still be available. It also allows the commission, inter alia, to apply to the courts for orders to enforce its directives and orders and to commence supervisory liquidations under securities laws.
The Minister pointed out that legislation affecting the financial services industry must be reviewed regularly if The Bahamas is to remain competitive. *“We believe that as we move forward in the financial services industry that it is important for us to keep looking at these different aspects of how we operate as a jurisdiction. A comprehensive overview of all of the legislation as it relates to financial services has to be done on almost a yearly basis for us in order to really remain competitive in financial services.”*
Also taking the opportunity to address challenges faced by the financial services industry generally, Minister Strachan said these challenges are part of an increasingly dynamic environment where the demands placed on countries involved in financial services are required to police the financial activities of citizens of other countries. *“On a global level, The Bahamas, consistent with every jurisdiction involved in the financial services industry, has critical responsibilities associated with counter-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering initiatives. On a regional level we face challenges to our reputation wherein all of us and each of us in the Caribbean are fighting the label of being described as ‘tax havens’, despite our compliance with international
regulatory obligations,”* she said.