As published on nycaribnews.com, Wednesday December 11, 2019.
NASSAU, Bahamas, CMC – Finance Minister Peter Turnquest has expressed “disgust” over a decision made by France to place The Bahamas on its blacklist of tax havens for lack of cooperation.
Speaking on Wednesday, Turnquest, who is also deputy prime minister confirmed that Paris had formally notified the Minnis administration of its decision earlier in the day.
Turnquest labeled the decision as “surreptitious and as an affront” to international diplomatic norms and the relationship this nation had sought to build with France. He added that The Bahamas’ inclusion on France’s list of countries deemed non-cooperative in the fight against tax-related crimes stemmed from “the perception by the French authorities” that this nation “has not been responding to requests for information in a manner that is satisfactory to them.”
The Finance Minister said an intergovernmental investigation had not turned up any French tax information requests that remained outstanding or had not been dealt with, saying The Bahamas has “nothing on the record”.
He also criticized France’s failure to invoke the dispute resolution process contained in the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters, which The Bahamas signed in late 2017 to facilitate tax information exchange and co-operation.
“I have expressed to the French ambassador our disappointment, our total disgust with the way in which this has been done,” Turnquest said, “the disrespectful manner in which The Bahamas has been treated in this particular regard.
The Finance Minister said that he intends to communicate that to the Global Forum, to the OECD and the EU.
“There is no point, Mr. Speaker, in us engaging in these multilateral organizations if individual members are going to take unilateral action, particularly without dialogue, at the highest level. Yet they expect commitment from us at the highest political levels.”
The latter point refers to the EU’s move to temporarily “blacklist” the Bahamas in early 2018 on the basis that this nation had not given a commitment at the Government’s highest levels to address its concerns over economic substance and the elimination of preferential tax regimes for foreign investors.
Other countries blacklisted by France are Anguilla, the Virgin Islands, and Seychelles. France has been carrying out investigations into 500 offshore companies following the Panama Papers scandal three years ago which exposed illegal practices in the offshore finance industry.