Published On: Fri, Oct 5th, 2012

Bahamas competitiveness as financial centre to be examined at Nassau conference

NASSAU - The Bahamas' competitiveness in the financial services industry continues to be impacted by initiatives driven by powerhouses like the United States, an issue that will be discussed by hundreds of industry stakeholders.

Michelle Neville-Clarke, a partner at Lennox Paton law firm, said many in the industry question if jurisdictions like The Bahamas are on a level playing field.

Neville-Clarke will be moderating the “Spotlight on Financial Center, USA” session facilitated by David Schwartz from the Florida International Bankers Association and Bruce Zagaris of Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe LLP at a Nassau conference scheduled for October 10. She believes this session will seek to answer a number of pertinent questions related to the US as a financial centre.

“There are so many ongoing international initiatives with the aim of countering money laundering and terrorist financing. The Bahamas continuously has to adjust and respond to the growing demands placed on it. Sometimes you do question if there is a level playing field and I am excited to hear with this session what the effect of these international initiations are on powerhouses like the USA,” she said.

“Do they implement the same international requirements that are placed on jurisdictions like The Bahamas? Do they face the same sort of challenges and do they adapt to the changing international requirements in the same manner that jurisdictions like The Bahamas do?”

During that session, Neville-Clarke said issues like the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the upcoming U.S. elections will also be addressed.

“I think they will touch on FATCA, which is very timely. It’s a US driven initiative and will have a far-reaching effect on other jurisdictions like The Bahamas, where an account or security balance is held by a US person. There will likely be significant effects of FATCA on The Bahamas. There are going to be significant demands placed on certain Bahamas-based financial institutions along with significant due diligence burdens,” she noted.

The Bahamas is currently discussing whether to sign the inter-governmental agreement.

“It will be interesting to hear the impact of FATCA and other international initiatives on US banks as well,” said Neville-Clarke.

All institutions will reportedly have to comply with American law, which will undoubtedly impact costs operationally. The deadline to meet that agreement with the US is June 30, 2013.

Beginning in 2016, the required reporting will be expanded to include income from US accounts.

Neville-Clarke said delegates would be able to walk away from the session with an understanding of how international initiatives affect the US and how that could impact The Bahamas.

“With these growing demands, Bahamas-based institutions have to be aware of different potential disclosure regimes that are arising,” she pointed out.

By Scieska Adderley
Nassau Guardian Business Reporter

Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian


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