No word on Bahamas EU 'blacklist' escape


Tribune Business Reporter

THE Bahamas has yet to hear whether it has escaped the European Union's (EU) 'blacklist', with the Deputy Prime Minister yesterday hoping "for an indication over the next few days".

K P Turnquest had earlier this week expressed hope that the Bahamas might be delisted at yesterday's meeting of 'technocrats' and officials on the EU's Code of Conduct Group, which oversees the 28-nation bloc's anti-tax avoidance initiatives. However, it now appears that the Bahamas may have to wait until the EU finance ministers' meeting on May 25, with Mr Turnquest reiterating that this nation's fate rests entirely with the group as "we have done everything we were supposed to do".

Mr Turnquest said the Government was hoping to receive some indication from the EU yesterday on the delisting progress but, in speaking with Tribune Business, said he was hopeful an announcement will be made in the next few days. "They are not on our schedule, we are on their schedule. I personally don't expect to hear anything today, but hopefully over the next few days we will get some kind of indication of what the results were," he added.

"We are 100 per cent confident that we have done everything we are supposed to be doing from our side. One of the kind of anomalies about this situation is we have never missed any deadlines. We have done everything we are supposed to do, even up to the time we were 'blacklisted'. "The ultimate deadline is December. Even now it's premature in any event. It is their rules and we have to make sure that we adapt and, from here on out, make sure that were are completely, cooperative, transparent, proactive about the communications we have with them, and very technical about those responses. They have indicated to us in our meetings with them that we have done everything that we need to do, so it's just on them to act."

Mr Turnquest recently told Tribune Business the Government at least hoped to "satisfy" the demands of the EU's technocrats at yesterday's meeting. Achieving that would mean the Bahamas' delisting was a relative "formality" when the bloc's finance ministers meet on May 25.

The EU formally 'blacklisted' the Bahamas on March 13, having 'leaked' its intentions the previous week, for allegedly being non-cooperative in the fight against large-scale tax avoidance by multinational companies.

The 28-nation bloc complained that it did not receive the 'high level political commitment' it had been seeking from the Bahamas to address its concerns, which largely related to 'ring fencing' and the absence of 'economic substance' requirements for corporate vehicles operating in this jurisdiction.

Mr Turnquest subsequently said letters he had personally signed committing the Bahamas to compliance with the EU's anti-tax avoidance drive were "obviously not taken into account" in the 'blacklisting' decision.