Bahamas ‘Must Address’ Beneficial Owner Access
The deputy prime minister has reiterated that The Bahamas “must address” access to beneficial ownership information for all corporate entities domiciled in this jurisdiction.
KP Turnquest said the Government was looking to the Register of Beneficial Owners Bill 2018 as the solution, although beneficial ownership will not be publicly available. Access will be restricted to law enforcement authorities and financial services regulators as they seek to meet their international co-operation obligations.
Speaking to a financial services industry briefing, Mr Turnquest said the Government was also committed to complying with the four minimum standards under the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiative.
“To this end, the Multinational Entities Financial Reporting Act 2018 was passed, and related legislation is being considered,” he said. “The jurisdiction must address, for example, accessibility of beneficial owner information, which it aims to accomplish via the Register of Beneficial Owners Bill 2018.”
Mr Turnquest said the Bahamian financial services industry should get a new Investment Funds Bill soon, with further changes to the Securities Industry Act also in the pipeline.
He confirmed that The Bahamas had received a “largely compliant” rating for the first two rounds one of its exchange of tax information on request peer reviews by the OECD’s Global Forum.
The deputy prime minister then added that the Securities Commission, since 2012, has been an “A” signatory to IOSCO’s MMoU – the arrangement governing information exchange in relation to cross-border securities crimes. He said it is poised to be a global leader as one of the first adopters of the upcoming enhanced MMoU.
Mr Turnquest said that despite the ever-changing goal regulatory environment, The Bahamas’ response must be strategic. “We must be excellent. We have not survived thus far because we are a small, offshore jurisdiction. Rather, we have survived because of the things that we do very well as a small, offshore jurisdiction,” he added.
“For example, ours may well be the best trust legislation in the world, and we have manifested a capacity for transformative innovation, such as we have seen with the SMART Fund and the Investment Condominium.”
Mr Turnquest said The Bahamas must offer value to clients, and always enhance the value-added services this jurisdiction offers.
“We talk a lot about shifting goal posts, but we can also talk about how our pursuit of them, while arduous, has transformed and is transforming the reputation of our jurisdiction,” he said.
“In our response to these obstacles, we demonstrate that we are serious about carving out our niche, and that there are many sound reasons for offshore clients to turn to The Bahamas to conduct their financial affairs.”