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Review Of Data Systems After 'Bahama Papers' Leak

Former Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson.

Former Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

ATTORNEY General Allyson Maynard-Gibson confirmed yesterday that officials have undertaken a review of data systems at the Registrar General's Department following the leak of 1.3 million files from the corporate registry.

Mrs Maynard-Gibson emphasised that the unauthorised publication of the data by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) - dubbed 'the Bahamas Papers' - was a very serious matter.

Detailing recent initiatives to upgrade and fulfil its legal mandate, she maintained that the government was committed to the transparency of its corporate registry.

"The Government of The Bahamas officially launched its e-Services Business Registration platform at the Registrar General's Department in January, 2016, as a part of the Government’s ongoing strategy to improve ease of doing business," said Mrs Maynard-Gibson in a press statement on Friday.

"It is important to note that the data required by law to be maintained in the companies registry is available to the public. Further, since 2000, as a part of our compliance regime it has been a legal requirement that a register of directors and officers be filed at the companies registry. The Bahamas remains committed to the transparency of its corporate registry."

The statement continued: "Having said this, we take this matter of an unauthorised publication by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) of  data held by the online companies registry very seriously.

"A review of our systems is currently underway. Based on the findings, all necessary action will be taken to ensure that we maintain the requisite data protection as we understand the importance of this to our users."

The documents were leaked to the same media agency that received the massive ‘Panama Papers’, an exposé that rocked the industry in April, German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and it covers from 1990 to early 2016.

The ICIJ database circumvents the local register’s costly retrieval fee and incomplete online registry by providing a publicly searchable forum of the names of directors and some shareholders of more than 175,000 Bahamian companies.

Released in tandem with detailed reporting on the offshore links to high-profile international politicians, including UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd, the latest installment to the massive Offshore Leaks Database created by the ICIJ has labelled the Bahamas as the “Switzerland of the West”.

The disclosure comes five months after the country’s financial services sector was dragged into the spotlight as a top tax haven in the infamous “Panama Papers”.

The Bahamas was ranked as the third most popular ‘tax haven’ used by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca  for company incorporations in the data breach that has sent shockwaves through international finance in April.

The Ministry of Financial Services knocked the ‘Panama Papers’ as a “gratuitous attempt” to produce a negative portrayal of the Bahamas as an international financial centre (IFC).

At that time, the Ministry questioned the motives for the Mossack Fonseca leak in light of the ICIJ's own disclaimer that there was no suggestion of law breaking or impropriety.

In the new Bahamas leaks, ICIJ again makes clear on its website that there is no suggestion of law breaking or impropriety; however, its reporting noted that “police, detectives and fraud investigators use registries as starting points on the trail of wrongdoing".

The ICIJ maintains that the new data does not specify whether directors named in connection with a Bahamian firm “truly control the company or act as nominees, employees-for-hire who serve as the face of the company but have no involvement in its operations”.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 3 years ago

" we take this matter of an unauthorised publication by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) of data held by the online companies registry very seriously."

I wonder if they've realized as yet that this exactly what Fitzgerald did. He revealed private information that he received, knowing full well that the person who delivered it was not authorized to transfer the info, and he himself having no authorization to reveal it.

("Private" meaning data access is restricted)

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TalRussell 3 years ago

Comrades! Here the AG is grandstanding again when she must know that all her emphasizing how the unauthorized publication of the data by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists dubbed 'the Bahamas Paper' - was a very serious matter.
The data on the corporate registry is already publicly accessible which typically consist of names of the companies, creation dates, addresses and in some cases they’ll have director or owner names clearly listed for viewing and downloading. The only 'unauthorized; serious matter is that the government just didn't get their greedy hands on the ridiculously high $10 Fee they couldn't collect to view per document.
Maybe the AG might could try billing the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists - the uncollected $10 Fee per document viewed and downloaded.

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ThisIsOurs 3 years ago

The issue isn't whether the data is publicly known, it's whether it's publicly accessible. Imagine someone taking an email from the PM's account that had the annual budget report attached. You might say, "well everyone sees the budget report, what's the big deal?". It's not the information, it's the access and the implications of that access.

This has implications for ANY piece of data stored including salaries, VAT filings and VAT returns. Would you want your company's VAT filings published?

For Fitzgerald to continuously repeat that he would "do it again", he simply doesn't care about the damage he's done to the country. His argument about protecting his name is ridiculous, nobody call his name and just the other day his former driver and campaign general, who is apparently well known on the streets, was convicted of drug trafficking. If I were ICIJ and the AG approached me about this "very serious matter", I'd simply say your cabinet colleague Fitzgerald said it was ok.

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TalRussell 3 years ago

Comrade ThisIsOurs, you can stop with the asking others to imagine someone taking an email from the PM's account - cause he must not be reading his emails. It is now almost a full year since I emailed the PM a picture of my backyard goat, asking him what he thinks about my goat -King's Counsel Red Shirts, and he never replied a word.

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banker 3 years ago

Nobody answers emails in the Bahamas. It is too complicated for their simple brains. All their brain cycles are taken up by trying to figure out how to screw each other (figuratively & literally).

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alfalfa 3 years ago

If it was a "leak" it means that someone in the Registrar Generals's Dept. is complicit. If the system was hacked it is a different ballgame, one that in the AG's office is way out of their league. The AG reffered to it as a leak, so go and arrest the person or persons responsible. Show us how "swift justice" works. I await with bated breath.

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BaronInvest 3 years ago

It all comes down to not letting idiots to handle your data. So in short, if you don't want any exposure of business you do simply don't do it in the Bahamas or other third world countries run by idiots. The Bahamas are known for their bad education and high crime-rate. It's common knowledge that officials don't give a flying fuck about anything unless there is something on the table they could grab. So how can you even remotely assume that creating a database of all corporate information in the Bahamas is a good thing ?

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TalRussell 3 years ago

Comrade BaronInvest, the problem the world over is when government services have been privatized those who get the contracts are politically connected to the government in power and have have continued to deliver below standard services and at higher costs to the users. What is happening at BEC is a perfect example, and BTC has chiefly served to enrich the foreign owners whilst continuing to to be an open door to political appointments and constituents job placements by their governing MP's.
Fact is with privatization comes more costs not only for end user services but to the taxpayers'. The politically flexibility to be accountability to taxpayers come election time is removed under privatization but not the costs and the political appointments. Take a closer look at BPL and BTC and you will appreciate what I am talking about.

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Alex_Charles 3 years ago

oh so NOW putting out private information to the public is a problem?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years ago

This Wicked Witch (Maynard-Gibson) is completely and utterly incompetent when it comes to just about anything except thinking of her own selfish interests and putting ill-gotten gains in her bank account!

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Reality_Check 3 years ago

You're so right....she is one nut-head that proves nuts like her never fall far from the tree....and we all know which corrupt tree she fell from.

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Abaconian 3 years ago

An infringement on our sovereignty.. thats what it is. .

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