Erosion of our sovereignty

EDITOR, The Tribune.

So I’ve been extremely vocal through my podcast and other postings on social media as to my extreme vexation about The Bahamas and the blacklist.

I’ve got many Bahamian friends and friends of other nationalities messaging and asking me why I’m so uptight about the removal of The Bahamas from the black list.

They point out isn’t that a good thing.

And I answer it’s a necessary thing, but that doesn’t make it good.

I’m desperately trying to alert the masses that as I see it our sovereignty is being infringed yet again and we are being mandated and manipulated into making changes to a sector of our economy of which we were once so very proud, and which we widely touted, namely the shield of secrecy with respect to our financial services industry.

The Bahamas and many other small island states thieved off of this ability and up to about twenty-five years ago the industrialised world accepted our sovereign positions and our autonomy to a very large extent.

With the explosion of the super rich and billionaires world wide, and with their reluctance to pay the ridiculously high taxes in the countries of their birth, they sought out tax havens such as The Bahamas, to, in many instances, hide conceal and shield their money from their governments and avoid their obligations.

This was, however, viewed worldwide as their problem by and large and was addressed in the individual countries that were affected.

As we can see, however, this wasn’t good enough so the industrialised nations sought to bring about changes to the laws in countries such as ours. Quite frankly they didn’t just attempt to they in fact did through the use of various bullying tactics.

It should be borne in mind that The Bahamas, as with other jurisdictions, already had legal mechanisms in place to which the requesting countries had to adhere.

But the attainment of the information was not necessarily guaranteed and in many instances the requests even when the correct process had been followed was denied.

Again this was an impediment to big brother so they found another way. In the early years of the intrusion they overcame this by applying pressure to the banks in the USA or elsewhere that has branches locally by imposing fines on the US counterparts to ensure the information was forthcoming.

During this period we saw many of these billionaires and the super rich renouncing the citizenships of their birth and taking up Bahamian or other citizenships and, or, taking up permanent residency elsewhere as many of these industrialized nations differentiated with the tax rates and obligations imposed upon those persons resident at home as opposed to elsewhere.

We also saw major companies such as Apple use jurisdictions such as Ireland that provided them with a safe place to domicile their immense profits free of the grasp of the tax man.

Well that didn’t sit well with the USA and the other industrialized countries and as with the USA they still recognised and designated these individuals ‘as persons of interest’ thus allowing them to still implement taxes.

We see that Apple has been involved in a long embittered ten year battle with the EU over taxes resulting in a ruling from the European Court of Justice in November 2024 that Apple received favourable tax status from Ireland and owes €13B to the EU as a result of the favourable tax status extended to them.

The difference here is Ireland has stepped up to the plate in full support of Apple and contends that Apple paid all its taxes levied against them. It’ll be interesting to see how this is finally resolved.

In the Bahamas we can for the most part trace our dilemma that’s presently engulfing us to that packet of financial legislation put in place by the Ingraham administration in 2000. This came about only because of the blacklisting by the OECD.

But our sovereign rights had been chipped away before that and for that we have to harken back to the 1980s and the halcyon days of the cocaine trade.

If you’d recall it was possible to go into banks locally and abroad and deposit suitcases full of cash and then the US imposed the up to $10,000.00 deposit limit and anything above had reporting requirements. In The Bahamas we did not follow suit.

One could at that time also open bank accounts with no hassles. That’s no longer the case in The Bahamas as anyone who’s ever tried to open a bank account can attest to.

Amazingly the situation today is that as a Bahamian I can still go into any commercial bank in the US and within an hour have an account opened.

In The Bahamas, however, we have a long arduous process and this is as a direct result of rules and regulations being applied to us from outside our boarders.

As a practising attorney attempting to open accounts for corporate clients I can say without reservation it now routinely takes months. The level of background information we must provide is onerous and they run a World Search report on everyone.

Once we capitulated we were then open game and entered a chasm that’s been widening ever since and thus the saga continues.

But where’s the equality amongst nations? It no longer exists. Big brother constantly reminds us to sit small and stay in our corner and we are powerless to do anything.

We will not have a meaningful voice if we can’t approach them as a bloc. Through their might and power they will always dictate to us.

Conversely look at how China and India have drastically increased the purchase of oil from Russia since the implementation of sanctions placed upon them as a result of the war in the Ukraine and the USA powerless to stop them.

Furthermore how European nations made it quite clear at the commencement of the sanctions that they’ll continue the purchase of natural gas from Russia as its vital to their society and again not a whisper from the USA.

This alone makes it abundantly clear the difference between countries that can exert their sovereignty and us small island nations that take orders.

This is the dilemma in which we find ourselves, one that we will be irretrievably locked in unless we increase our bargaining position.

But our politicians are too myopic in their positions and fail to look at and/or seek alternatives.

We must learn that we can have a greater say and opportunities if we ensure that CARICOM has some real teeth as seek alliances with India and many of the 55 African Nations and South America.

It takes intestinal fortitude and cojones to even attempt to do so admittedly and with the present kakistocracy that’s not a possibility.

When will we learn. When will we stand up and be counted. Statistics would indicate that at 57 I’ve probably lived longer than the time I’ve got left so in order to protect this Bahamas that we all love so dearly for my children and grandchildren it’s time to take a stand. March on Bahamaland.



February 22, 2024


Porcupine 2 months ago

Mr. Butler, With all due respect, The Bahamas is a place where doing anything, not just opening a bank account, takes way too much time. Anything, Mr. Butler. Why? Too few of us seem to care about other people's time. Few seem to care about the inefficiency, corruption, bad attitudes, pay to play, and other impediments to make things actually work well. We don't seem to care. We don't seem to give a damn about others. This is not just about sovereignty. And, I agree that these banking issues are unfair just so that the US can consolidate the tax haven we wish to maintain. However, we have a regressive tax system here that is killing our people, the poor and our economy. I wish they required Economics for law students and politicians. It seems very few lawyers understand justice and fairness outside of a courtroom. That's why it we get the results we do when they are in political power. The sovereignty issue boils down to basic understanding. Were we to be serious about educating and informing our people to make better choices for themselves and this country, as we have given empty words to for so, so long now, perhaps we would not be in this predicament. However, it seems that the last thing our politicians want is an electorate who is smart enough to see how poorly those they elected behave and the ignorant decisions they make. Mr. Butler, if The Bahamas wanted justice, why isn't there a robust freedom of information act whereby The People know every single thing the government does, and every single penny the government spends? National security? Intellectual property rights? Just what could be the answer? Certainly, it is not so that a group of corrupt, uneducated and supplicant little politicians can do as they wish with little to no oversight, hey? We lack honesty. We say the right words for others to hear. Yet, those in power behave like children. Do you not read the daily papers, Mr. Butler? So, I am with you 100% on the sovereignty issue. However, if you think that our banking woes are the worst of the loss of sovereignty issues, you missed a whole lot in between the lines. The present pain and suffering of our people are a direct result of poor local and national governance. We allowed a totally unfair taxation system to persist for the benefit of a handful of people at the top of our economic pyramid here in The Bahamas. A Country for Sale may not have been nice, but was it wrong? Again, I agree with you on the sovereignty issue. But, quite honestly our major problems; social, economic, political and spiritual, here in The Bahamas, are home grown problems which we continue to fail to be honest about, give only lip service to, and seem to forget about every 5 years. We continue to elect incompetent "leaders" to put us on the solid footing to move this country forward, upward, onward together. Besides this sovereignty issue, Mr. Butler, does everything else in our country seem to be going fine and dandy? Just asking.


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