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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bahamas Tax Havens Struggle


While the Bahamas is considered one of the original tax havens, one senior official at Deloitte & Touche said recently that The Bahamas has not reaped the maximum benefits like many other tax havens in the region.

Deloitte Managing Partner Raymond Winder said recently that The Bahamas has more or less flat lined compared to other Caribbean countries.

"We like to talk about this new model of business, but let us look at the financial services sector. We have never ever been a real big player in the financial service sector like some of the other tax havens," Mr. Winder said.

"Yes, the Bahamas was the original tax haven when you make a comparison against Grand Cayman and Bermuda but, let us look at what happens in Cayman and Bermuda, and just why they have benefited so much more from the financial services sector than we have.

"We have allowed the financial services sector in the Bahamas to be hijacked by the lawyers," he said.

The only players in the financial services sector Mr. Winder claimed are lawyers; this he said has been detrimental to the success of the financial services sector and by extension, tax havens.
"We feel as if all we have to do is incorporate corporations and there’s no more to it." Mr. Winder said.

Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing however tried to set the record straight last week about the governments stand point.

Mr. Laing however said that it is the legal fraternity that is partly to blame.

"What I find interesting is that when the government listens we are blamed and when we don’t listen we are blamed," Mr. Laing said.

"With the greatest respect, this notion that Mr. Winder is talking about in terms of lawyers is an absolute policy of the legal establishment.

"I can tell you that I go to Geneva and I go to New York and I talk to fund administrators all over the world. I ask them why they set up their funds in Cayman and in St. Vincent. They [the fund administrators] say that their lawyers have international practices in Geneva and St. Vincent etc., but not in the Bahamas, because they say they cannot get in the Bahamas as easily.

"This is something where the legal fraternity will have to move," Mr. Laing said.