Bahamas: Bahamas Monitoring Level Playing Field Conditions

Last Updated: 28 May 2003

Participating in a Business Seminar hosted by the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services on Monday, the Hon. Alfred Sears, Attorney General and Minister of Education, reviewed the OECDís Harmful Tax Competition initiative.

Pointing to the "commitment in favour of the OECD" as executed by The Bahamas in March 2002, the Attorney General explained that the nationís agreement to entertain bilateral negotiations with OECD member countries on information exchange in tax matters had been conditioned on several measures:

(a) That The Bahamas is not included on any list of non-cooperative tax havens nor subjected to any co-ordinated defensive measures by OECD countries.

(b) The Bahamasí stated intention to protect is economic interests and fiscal autonomy in all negotiations.

(In this connection, a clear stipulation was made that a level playing field among all OECD members and those non-members that are materially in competition with The Bahamas in the provision of cross-border financial services is critical to the economic interests of The Bahamas)

(c) Co-ordinated defensive measures would be imposed by the OECD member countries on non-compliant member countries and non-member countries alike.

(d) The Bahamas would become a full and equal participant in the Global Forum discussions for the implementation of internationally accepted standards for tax information exchange.

(e) The detailed implementation of any commitment not already provided for under Bahamian law would be subject to the prior approval of the Bahamian Parliament.

(f) The implementation of any information exchange in respect of savings instruments for civil tax purposes would only take effect at such time as international standards in this area have been established.

(This particularly took note of the on-going discussions within the EU on the application of its Savings Tax Directive to Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria as well as non-EU members such as the United States, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and San Marino)

Provided these conditions are met, The Bahamas has committed to bilateral "negotiations" for exchange of tax information in criminal matters by January 1, 2004 and for exchange of information in civil matters by January 1, 2006.

Global Forum

The Bahamas participated in the only Global Forum meeting convened since presenting its commitment letter to the OECD and, arising from that October meeting, serves on a technical sub group that is mandated to consider how to effectively and equitably introduce a requirement for "corporate type" vehicles to maintain financial records ñ i.e. trusts, partnerships and other vehicles that do not have a defined legal personality such as a company.

One of the broad commitments made to the OECD under the genre of "transparency" ñ and also conditioned on the measures above ñ related to a requirement for companies and other such legal entities to maintain financial records subject to de minimis and other exceptions to be developed within the Global Forum. Any such audits would be conducted in accordance with internationally accepted standards.

That Global Forum meeting last October concluded with a clear consensus that the whole issue of the accounts requirement was "still a work in progress until such time as respective member-governments of the Global Forum has agreed all aspects." Minister Sears said this would include those OECD members that have not abstained from the process, and those jurisdictions that have signed commitments letters.

Importantly on the level playing field issue, the OECD has confirmed that any standard developed by the Global Forum would apply equally to OECD and non-OECD members and, further, that no sanctions would be applied to any jurisdiction before such is imposed on a non-cooperating OECD member.

Efforts are underway now to have the Global Forum discuss the future of the OECDís entire harmful tax project. The Attorney General pointed out that the major challenge to the project has been its inability to provide tangible evidence of any progress made in applying its commitment to a level playing field to non-member economies nor to its own non-compliant members. In this connection, he said The Bahamas "continues to monitor developments within the OECD and to remain mindful of the level playing field condition and other conditionalities governing our commitment."

He also referenced suggestions that the EU is not prepared to recognise any member country as having "potentially harmful tax regimes" ñ a move that has significant implications for the OECDís harmful tax initiative as a whole.

Seminar participants were assured that the Bahamas Government fully expects all OECD members and non members alike which are materially in competition with The Bahamas in the provision of cross-border financial services to have provided the same commitments (in scope and time frame) as those extracted from the committed jurisdictions by the time this nation is required to act on its commitment. This is a position which has been ñ uniformly and collectively ñ echoed by all committed jurisdictions.

Information Exchange

Minister Sears also spoke to the information exchange agreement signed with the United States last year, ìbroadly in terms of the commitment given to the OECDîí; i.e. criminal tax exchange as of January 2004 and civil tax exchange as of January 2006. He said that in both cases the taxable periods in question must arise after the effective date of implementation. Currently, a draft of enabling legislation to implement the US agreement is being refined within relevant government agencies.

The U.S. TIEA is consistent with the intent of the OECD commitment, and other OECD member countries seeking a TIEA with The Bahamas will be required to negotiate such as bilateral arrangements, provided that all preconditions of the commitment have been fully met at the relevant time.

International Arena

Minister Sears said multi-lateral arrangements and agreements which regulate trade must be of great significance to The Bahamas because of the heavy reliance on international trade for the nationís survival and sustenance. îFor us in The Bahamas the time certainly has come where we have to become much more diligent in cultivating the internal resources to craft a place in the evolving construction of the international trade regime.î

The nation remains committed to international cooperation as "a responsible and significant" player in the international trade arena, and it is in this context that it must view and address relevant international initiatives.

The Business Seminar was part of a series of events scheduled under the general theme "Repositioning Financial Services", during the annual Bahamas Institute of Financial Services Week.

The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
18 Nov 2019, Business Breakfast, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The event will showcase the jurisdiction for those wishing to expand their investment and financial services capabilities. In this regard, the delegate audience we are aiming to attract includes fund financial services advisors, commercial and corporate attorneys, corporate administrators, asset managers, law firms, consultants, accounting firms and private wealth advisory services.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions