No outstanding commitments stopping removal from EU blacklist

Nassau Guardian:  

The Bahamas has no more outstanding commitments for the European Union’s (EU) Code of Conduct Group (CoCG) that should stop its removal from the group’s blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions on tax matters, a statement from Deputy Prime Minister and Minster of Finance Peter Turnquest explained.

Turnquest said in the statement that the representative of the Chair of the CoCG explained recently: “The Bahamas has done everything it needed to do, and now it is the EU’s time to act.”

The decision to remove The Bahamas from the blacklist will be made when the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meets next.

“The Bahamas expects this to be a priority when ECOFIN next meets,” Turnquest said.

Turnquest insists that The Bahamas’ inclusion on the EU blacklist was unjustifiable, given this country’s “strong and unwavering commitment to the integrity of our financial services industry”.

In the statement Turnquest notes that The Bahamas has fully cooperated with the CoCG on its compliance with new measures brought forward by the EU on tax matters, and explained that government is on track to meet the EU’s year-end deadline for compliance on certain tax matters.

“Notwithstanding the regrettable decision taken by the European Union to place The Bahamas on a list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, The Bahamas is committed to international tax transparency and cooperation, exchange of financial account information for tax purposes, and international regulatory standards,” the deputy prime minister’s statement said.

“Our schedule included action steps necessary for full compliance with the base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) project within the announced time frame ending in December 2018.”

Turnquest explained that The Bahamas was blacklisted due to a “misunderstanding over a fine technical point in the use of contractual language”.

In his statement, the deputy prime minister also decried the use of the term “tax haven” to describe The Bahamas’ financial services sector.

“We are a clean, compliant and cooperative wealth management jurisdiction, providing competitive services to international financial markets for financial services,” he said. “We compete on the strength of our services and the quality of our professionals.”

Due to the misunderstanding that led to the country’s blacklisting, Turnquest said government will strengthen its diplomatic presence in Brussels where the EU body is headquartered.

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