Financial Regulatory Forum

Bahamas signs tax accord with Britain in step toward OECD compliance

By Reuters Staff
October 30, 2009

NASSAU, Oct 29 (Reuters)- The Bahamas on Thursday signed a tax information agreement with Britain, in a move it heralded as another step toward inclusion on an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “white list” of countries that meet internationally agreed tax standards.

The Bahamas already had a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the United States and it has been negotiating a number of similar accords with other governments to comply with the OECD standard.

The TIEA with the United Kingdom is the fourth signed by the Bahamas so far.

The Atlantic archipelago located southeast of Florida needs 12 such agreements to be removed from an OECD “gray list” of countries that are not yet in full compliance with international tax standards.

“This signing of this TIEA is another step towards the government of the Bahamas fulfilling its commitment to the evolved international standards of transparency and information exchange,” said the Bahamas’ Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing.

“As the Bahamas and the United Kingdom adjust to the ever-changing global financial and economic landscape, we look forward to cooperation with the United Kingdom in this and other areas, and to a continued robust and amiable relationship between our two countries,” Laing said.

The TIEA agreements allow tax authorities to access information about people who are seeking to evade payment of taxes and help disclose assets that have not been reported in their home countries.

In an interview with Reuters last month, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham rebuffed some criticism of offshore financial centers perceived as tax havens by the United States and other members of the Group of 20 economic powers.

But Ingraham said he understood that as national economies shrank in the global economic downturn, it was a “legitimate undertaking” for governments around the world to try to recover funds they believed they were owed in unpaid taxes.
(Reporting by Neil Hartnell; Editing by Tom Brown) ((thomas.brown@thomsonreuters.com; +1 305 810 2688; Reuters Messaging: thomas.brown.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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