Barbados: Focus on international finance services

By added on 16/10/2014

A University of the West Indies Professor believes that the global attention being focused on offshore financial centres has come about because the international community remains concerned about money laundering and among other things, the financing of terrorism, reports the Barbados Advocate.

Dr Don Marshall who heads up the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic studies (SALISES) at the UWI, Cave Hill, made the comments as he sought to explain the interest which major industrialised countries continue to focus on offshore jurisdictions including those in the Caribbean.

Participating in a panel discussion on the International Business Sector in Barbados, Dr Marshall said that as “we have continued to make strides in the area of international business we continue to attract negative appraisals.”

He pointed out that some inferences are made about international financial centres, where the Caribbean is particularly highlighted in negative ways.

Dr Marshall invited the audience to reflect back to 1981 when a series of Congressional reports were made speaking about tax havens and naming and shaming countries of the Caribbean for allegedly facilitating tax evasion.

Barbados has denied on several occasions it is not a tax haven.

“We have to go back to that year because I want you to get a sense that we have signed a number of international agreements and procedures all in the area of facilitating transparency and in the area of ensuring there is mutual legal assistance,” he pointed out.

The SALISES official remarked that regional countries have signed a number of double taxation agreements, information exchange tax protocols, and between 1980 and now there has been continuing compliance in relation to a series of innovative measures introduced.

“I am going to say that they are concerned with international financial stability, concerns about sources of terrorist financing, tax evasion, and they are also concerned with money laundering,” he said.

“So whether it was the 1980s in the fight against drugs, there are concerns about money laundering,” he told the session.

He said there is the thinking therefore that what is done in international business we facilitate money laundering.

“Of course any good legal expert or would identify you could launder your money by a variety of means,” he said pointing to insurance policies, real estate, and host of activities which may not necessarily belong to the sphere of international business,” he noted.