The Bahamas Financial Services Board hosted a very timely seminar to assist financial institu-tions with meeting their obligations under The Common Reporting Standard (CRS). The seminar was held on Tuesday December 12, 2017 and was facilitated by Paul Davis, Partner of Higgs & Johnson law firm and Deputy Chairman of The Bahamas Financial Services Board. There were over 130 attendees.
Today the government announced that as it has received the formal invitation to sign The Mul-tilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (“The Convention”) that they will sign the Convention on Friday of this week. The Convention aims to facilitate tax cooperation and is a key component in the OECDs efforts to combat tax evasion, corruption and money laundering. BFSB welcomes the announcement that The Bahamas will formalize its stated intention to adopt the multilateral approach to CRS. This step goes a long way in demon-strating our commitment to being a transparent and cooperative international financial centre. Industry stakeholders welcome the certainty that this brings for the sector.
Mr. Davis outlined the Bahamas’ position on CRS and explained the process for ensuring that financial institutions comply. He emphasized that the following steps had to be taken by finan-cial institutions:
- Identifying Financial Institutions;
- Reviewing Financial Accounts;
- Identifying Reportable accounts;
- Application of Due Diligence rules; and
- Reporting relevant information to the Competent Authority
Mr. Davis distinguished The US Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) obligations from those under CRS. Lastly, he provided practical advice to the professionals concerning the stand-ard for their knowledge and the floor was opened for Q&A.
The CEO & Executive Director of BFSB, Miss Tanya McCartney used the opportunity to provide industry practitioners with an update on where the Bahamas was in terms of implementing the Common Reporting Standard. She informed participants that both The Convention and The Mul-tilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) would be signed by the end of this week. She went on to advise that with respect to the MCAA, there is a notification process before the au-tomatic exchange of financial information can take effect between the two Competent Authori-ties and the timing of when exchanges will commence. The list of countries with whom The Ba-hamas intends to exchange was issued in June of 2017 and is set out on the government’s web-site www.taxreporting.finance.gov.bs/. These countries make up an eligible pool with whom The Bahamas may automatically exchange information. Notice will be given with respect to the dates upon which exchanges will take effect between specific countries. Financial institutions should be prepared to commence exchange with all of these countries.