Netherlands never raised any tax haven concerns, says Bahamas minister

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Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest speaks to members of the media last week during a press conference at the Office of The Prime Minister. Torrell Glinton

By Chester Robards

NASSAU, Bahamas — The Netherlands never contacted the Bahamian government regarding its concerns on tax matters before adding The Bahamas to its blacklist, deputy prime minister and minister of finance, Peter Turnquest, said last week, adding that The Bahamas is concerned about this kind of unilateral action by a country.

Turnquest, who was speaking at a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, said the action by the Dutch is tantamount to a country, on its own accord, applying a different standard to tax matters than those of the European Union (EU), a body of which it is a part.

“We’re always concerned when we see this kind of unilateral action,” Turnquest said.

“The fact of the matter is we’ve been working very hard to meet the standards promulgated by the EU and OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).

“The instance of countries unilaterally deciding that they want to change the rules or to apply a different standard, is always of concern to us because it goes against the very tenets of a multilateral approach.

“It is disappointing that we get this kind of premature response from the Netherlands. We don’t have on record at this point them having reached out to us to have a discussion regarding their concerns.”

Turnquest said the government has worked hard to align itself with standards set by the EU, and he said the EU has been very clear about those standards.

The Bahamas recently introduced legislation aimed at moving this country away from the tax haven stigma and leveling the playing field. The legislation put together by the government and the financial services sector was scrutinized by the EU. But last week the Dutch government added The Bahamas and 15 other countries to a tax haven blacklist, extending the list of five countries currently on the European Union’s (EU) blacklist.

Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands were also among the countries added to the Dutch blacklist, according to an article in the St Maarten newspaper, The Daily Herald.

According to the article, the countries listed have no corporate tax or use a nominal tax structure to guard against the appearance of tax evasion and therefore were added to the list.

The five countries on the EU blacklist are American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa and Trinidad and Tobago.

Dutch state secretary of finance, Menno Snel, was quoted in the Herald article saying: “By drafting our own strict blacklist, we again show that we are serious about combating tax evasion. And this is just one of the measures that we are taking.”

The EU is soon set to release its updated blacklist, which The Bahamas has been diligently working to avoid.

Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian

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