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OECD threatens Bahamas with blacklisting, Bahamas wilts

The Bahamas approach to transparency

The Bahamas on transparency

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo is running an article in Spanish, whose headline translates as “If Bahamas goes on like this, it will go onto the G20 blacklist” – and the text in quote marks comes from Pascal Saint-Amans, head of tax at the OECD, the club of rich countries.

The Bahamas has been in the news recently: first, we wrote a scathing blog about how the Bahamas was a big hole in global efforts to build transparency, refusing to participate effectively in the OECD’s incoming Common Reporting Standard to share banking information across border. Very soon afterwards, an article appeared in The Economist whose subheading “The Bahamas cocks a snook at the war on tax-dodgers” said it all — and it received a fusillade of angry responses from Bahamas media. Then, a few days later, a series of “BahamasLeaks” international articles appeared in the media, co-ordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ,) confirming Bahamas’ role as a turntable for dirty money.

The Bahamas tax haven – a (re-)emerging global menace?

url Swag1-288x300Update: as it happens, The Economist has just published an excellent story about the Bahamas, subtitled The Bahamas Cocks a Snook at the War on Tax Dodgers. (Our only beef with that subtitle is that this is about so much more than just tax.)

We’ve periodically remarked on the Bahamas as a secrecy jurisdiction of great concern. Like Panama, it’s generally had a greater tolerance of dirty money than most modern offshore centres: more of a willingness to turn a blind eye and to overlook noncompliance by Bahamas-based actors of its own rules and laws.

The purpose of this blog is to flag up the Bahamas in a more pointed way: as a major wrecking-ball threatening global efforts to clamp down on cross-border financial secrecy.

The Bahamas has hosted an offshore centre for crime and tax evasion for decades, and it has historically had a higher tolerance for dirty money than most tax havens. Its secrecy score of 79 in our Financial Secrecy Index is one of the world’s highest. Treasure Islands summarises an important component of the Bahamas’ history and identity, via Chicago gangster Al Capone’s moneyman, Meyer Lansky:

Will the OECD tax haven blacklist be another whitewash?

hangzhou_logoFinance Ministers from the G20 countries meet in China on July 23-24 – this weekend. Amid sessions that will focus heavily on Brexit-related issues, there will be an important tax component. At their previous meeting they mandated the OECD to “establish objective criteria . . . to identify non-cooperative jurisdictions with respect to tax transparency.”

A blacklist, in other words.

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