BARBADOS’ Prime Minister David Thompson said he does not believe that Legislation tabled recently in the United States Congress to deal with offshore tax havens is targeting jurisdictions like Barbados…
“I want to say that despite the strong feelings about that piece of legislation, it did not seem to us that it was aimed at jurisdictions like Barbados,” the Prime Minister told the function organised by Invest Barbados, this country’s leading business promotion agency…
… from the Barbados Advocate article Barbados Is Safe!
U.S. Internal Revenue Service Names Barbados As A “Secrecy Jurisdiction”
According to David Thompson, Barbadians have nothing to worry about when it comes to the new American “Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act”. You see, the Prime Minister “feels” that the legislation is not aimed at jurisdictions like Barbados.
Perhaps Prime Minister Thompson had better read the American legislation and speak with the authors — who originally included a Senator named Barack Obama — because unlike David Thompson, those authors and the Internal Revenue Service “feel” that Barbados is an offshore secrecy jurisdiction and tax haven and they have said so in writing.
You don’t have to believe me, or Prime Minister Thompson. Just go to the website of President Obama’s partner pushing the legislation, United States Senator Carl Levin, and download it for yourself. (US Senator Carl Levin: Senate, House Members Introduce Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act – and here is his website: Senator Carl Levin Website)
The act includes a list of 34 jurisdictions identified in Internal Revenue court proceedings and Barbados is number five on that list of targeted jurisdictions. Again, you don’t have to believe me, you can read it for yourself (and frankly you won’t read it in any Barbados news media) Here is an excerpt…
‘‘(E) INITIAL LIST OF OFFSHORE SECRECY JURISDICTIONS.
For purposes of this paragraph, each of the following foreign jurisdictions, which have been previously and publicly identified by the Internal Revenue Service as secrecy jurisdictions in Federal court proceedings, shall be deemed listed by the Secretary as an offshore secrecy jurisdiction unless delisted by the Secretary under subparagraph (F)(ii):
(ii) Antigua and Barbuda.
(viii) British Virgin Islands.
(ix) Cayman Islands… (and 25 other jurisdictions)”
… From the (PDF) “Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act”
Why Should The United States Trust Barbados?
If you take emotion, patriotism and sheer will to survive out of your normal Bajan reaction to the US anti-tax haven legislation, you must admit that Barbados neatly fits the definition of both a “secrecy jurisdiction” and a “tax haven”. As well as the United States, both Canada and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have named Barbados as a recognised “tax haven”.
What defines a “tax haven” and “secrecy jurisdiction”? If you read the US and Canadian government reports and other materials freely available on the internet, you’ll see that a big part of that definition concerns what a “tax haven” is MISSING in terms of controls, oversight, transparency and rule of law. These missing structures allow what President Obama defines as “tax haven abuse”.
How About Barbados’ Controls, Oversight, Transparency and Rule of Law?
Ahhhh…. not so good….
Successive Barbados governments have failed to implement even the most basic controls and oversight over offshore corporations and government officials, so why should the United States remove our country from the list of secrecy jurisdictions and tax havens targeted by the new legislation?
Let’s look at some of the mitigating qualities for “good” offshore jurisdictions that might make Senator Levin and his colleagues reconsider placing Barbados on the list…
* Transparency of operations through Freedom of Information Legislation?
(NO! – Barbados doesn’t have FOI legislation or a culture of transparency and accountability. We were promised FOI, but it never came. As for transparency, Barbados does not hold inquests into deaths even when an entire family is wiped out . The elites are protected at all costs. )
* Oversight over Corporations?
(NO! – Barbados has a record of failing to provide sufficient oversight and accountability when it comes to corporations. Corporations are allowed to get away with refusing to file financial information as required by law. When the current Prime Minister was a practicing lawyer, some of his big corporate clients like CLICO failed to file required information and he didn’t care. Not to mention the fact that many government-owned corporations have failed to account as per law. Heck, even the Chief Justice of Barbados doesn’t file proper corporate documents for 13 years and gets away with it!)
* Integrity Legislation, Conflict of Interest Laws for Government Officials?
(NO! Barbados has no integrity legislation, conflicts of interest rules or a Ministerial Code! The current DLP Government promised to implement all this within the first 100 days, but that was almost a year and a half ago. Unbelievably, in Barbados it is still legal for a government official (elected or appointed) to issue a government contract to a company owned by the government official or their immediate family! See: Thanks To Prime Minister David Thompson, Barbados Government Officials Can Still Use Their Office For Personal Profit)
* Corporate Records Requirements?
(NO! Barbados has consistently failed to compel Barbados corporations to adhere to the law. It is not unusual for records to go missing – even government records – if it is convenient to some of the elites. Even government-owned corporations don’t file records as per the law! Here are some examples of failed oversight regarding corporate records keeping5: Gymnasium Limited, GEMS Hotels, CGI Consumers’ Guarantee Insurance Company, and CLICO for a start.
* Requirement To List Beneficial Shareholders of Corporations?
(NO! According to the International Monetary Fund Country Report No. 09/19, (link shows all IMF reports) Barbados law does not require the disclosure of beneficial shareholders of corporations. While the Registrar of Companies maintains a register with information on directors and registered offices of companies, there is no legislative requirement to disclose beneficial ownership information. Many Barbados foreigner-owned offshore corporations are “fronted” by Bajans, but the corporate records are kept in another jurisdiction, while the money flows to another jurisdiction like Panama or the Caymans. The true owners of the corporations remain hidden by Barbados law!
The IMF report also talks about corruption and bribery and other serious offences not being illegal…
“Barbados has criminalized money laundering (ML) broadly in compliance with international standards. However, while the definition of unlawful activity allows for a wide array of serious predicate offenses, human trafficking, corruption and bribery are not totally consistent with the requirements of the Palermo Convention.”
See the – PDF – IMF Country Report No. 09/19, January 2009)
* Rule of Law?
(NO! Successive Barbados governments have consistently shown that the “Rule of Law” means “We enforce laws when convenient to do so for our purpose and agenda.” Prime Minister Thompson declared that previous government officials stashed millions in foreign bank accounts, yet no action was taken against them. Rapists with money are allowed to buy their way out of criminal charges. THAT says everything about how Barbados views the wider societal importance of Rule of Law.)
* Effective Anti-Money Laundering Enforcement?
(NO! First, as the IMF report above points out, Barbados lacks the laws necessary to curtail bribery and conflicts of interest. Second, as the IMF report points out – the anti-money laundering authorities in Barbados haven’t really done anything! Left unsaid is that the Barbados Anti-Money Laundering Authority hasn’t really done anything, but the government took the international funding anyway. Naturally… 🙂
The most telling indicator of how the Government of Barbados views money-laundering, tax evasion and other international financial shenanigans though, is the fact that our country had to admit that the Barbados Anti-Money Laundering Authority Acted Illegally and Without Authority For Two Years.
The government only fixed things up retroactively after the story broke on a Barbados blog! – See Keltruth Corp’s article Does the Barbados Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA) Really Exist?)
Lack Of ITAL (Integrity, Transparency & Accountability Legislation) Is A Root Cause Of American Legislation Targeting Barbados
Successive Barbados governments, including the current DLP Thompson government, have deliberately refused to implement integrity reforms because doing so would limit their ability to profit from their public offices. Period.
By their actions and inactions, Owen Arthur, Mia Mottley, David Thompson and dozens of other political elites placed Barbados squarely in the target sights of the Obama administration’s “Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act”.
How fitting that if Barbados finally does implement ITAL, it will be because the corrupt politicians were finally dragged kicking and screaming to do something decent for the country – by the first black President of the United States of America.
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