Ministry of Financial Services Participates in STEP Global Congress, Amsterdam

Minister of Financial Services the Hon. C.V. Hope Strachan led a small delegation from the Ministry to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Global Congress June 30 to July 1, 2016 in Amsterdam, Holland.   The Ministry of Financial Services was a silver sponsor of the event.  CEO and Executive Director of The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB), Tanya McCartney was also in attendance at the Congress.

The two-day forum targeted STEP members, lawyers, accountants, bankers, tax practitioners, and intermediaries of all facets of financial services from around the world. STEP Global Congress enabled the Ministry to reach some 400 practitioners from 45 countries with the intention of introducing them or reintroducing them to The Bahamas as a premier Financial Services Centre.

An impressive line-up of speakers presented on a variety of topics centred upon private wealth, including perspectives on global challenges for practitioners and their clients.  Special attention was paid to the issue of transparency, the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI), and the Common Reporting Standards (CRS). An analysis of the broad impact of the various global regulatory obligations like US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Common Reporting Standard (CRS), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Customer (KYC), and Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) on countries and practitioners was undertaken.

In addressing the 400 practitioners the Minister touted The Bahamas’ value, including its natural physical attributes, advanced infrastructure, many years of experience in Financial Services, cadre of well-educated and experienced financial services practitioners and, most importantly — its products and services, capacity to innovate, and well-regulated, robust regime.

Minister Strachan highlighted challenges that confront the industry and, in particular, countries in the Caribbean: “We know that for many of us, particularly for those of us in comparatively smaller jurisdictions, that these challenges are even more critical. The Bahamas and the Caribbean region, can attest to the pressures which have come to bear in meeting and complying with the commitments of our global regulators, the de-risking measures undertaken in the commercial banking sector and certainly the measures taken to prevent tax avoidance, or to collect taxes globally. We continue to dedicate resources to meet our international obligations. We believe that The Bahamas’ value proposition prevails over any pressures brought to bear from external forces.”

Minister Strachan’s remarks were well-received by industry practitioners; considerable interest in doing business in The Bahamas was expressed. Minister Strachan said of this that she will “work diligently to ensure that this translates into tangible business for The Bahamas.”

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