By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamas is in “the blind” over France’s decision to “blacklist” its financial services industry, the deputy prime minister said yesterday, with Paris yet to justify why it took such punitive action.
K Peter Turnquest said: “I saw a listing today where they have done the official listing. So we are continuing our investigations with them. Actually, we are waiting for a response from them to our specific inquiries about the criteria and the issues they have identified as the reasons for this listing. Once we have that information we will certainly address it.
“As of now we are somewhat in the blind with respect to their reasoning and the justification for this listing. As I have said before, we have enjoyed a very good relationship with the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the Global Tax Forum, the EU, and we have made significant strides in terms of meeting all of the commitments that have been put before us - even those that we would not have been comfortable with and have been very difficult for us to meet.
“So this [the French action] is certainly an outlier. We don’t know exactly what it’s about, because the issues they have identified we were not aware of them. We have searched all of our data and we have not been able to see where there has been any request or issues outlined to us that we have not addressed.”
Several financial industry contacts have suggested it is ironic that France should “blacklist” The Bahamas now given that all its financial institutions, such as BNP Paribas, have exited this jurisdiction following the legal and regulatory pressures Paris imposed at home to drive them out.
However, the French move is the latest example of individual European nations placing The Bahamas on their national “blacklists” despite being members of groups, such as the EU and OECD, which have rated this nation compliant with the regulatory reforms they have demanded of it.
The Netherlands, for example, placed The Bahamas on its own “blacklist” earlier this year, while France also blacklisted Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Seychelles along with this nation in its latest action.
Mr Turnquest said yesterday: “We wait to hear what they [France] have to say in terms of specifics as to what their issues are. It is very disappointing because we are working very hard to be transparent and cooperative partners in the global community.”
The deputy prime minister had previously expressed his “total disgust” over how The Bahamas had been blindsided by the French move. The Emmanuel Macron government justified its actions on the basis that this nation, and the other three named, have taken too long to respond to requests for legal assistance and tax information, while the responses themselves are inadequate in terms of the information provided.
Gerald Darmanin, France’s minister of public action and accounts, said: “France’s list will be harder than that of the EU.” He added that The Bahamas and the other jurisdictions “are not cooperative enough in terms of financial transparency”.