BBC Caribbean News in Brief

No plans to change laws

Prime Minister of the Bahamas Hubert Ingraham says his government is not planning to change its offshore banking laws, even though it will comply with international tax regulations.  The Bahamas is currently on a grey list of not fully co-operative jurisdictions, drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). And Nassau is aiming to be white-listed by December this year.

The OECD requires jurisdictions to sign 12 tax exchange agreements, in order to be removed from the list of shamed countries. But Ingraham told Reuters News Agency that the Bahamas’ financial services sector had existed for 50 years and bank secrecy was one of its pillars.

He said the country will cooperate with specific investigations into suspected tax evaders and fraudsters. But it will not change its bank secrecy laws to allow what he called ‘fishing’ by foreign investigators.

First Barbados swine flu death

Barbados has recorded its first swine flu death.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John said the patient was an adult who had underlying medical conditions.

So far 96 cases of the virus have been recorded in Bridgetown. The World Health Organisation says more than 300,000 cases of swine flu have been confirmed around the world.  And there have been close to 4,000 deaths globally from the H1N1 virus.

Diplomat knocks
international community

St Vincent and the Grenadines has told the United Nations that its economic development is being hindered by measures implemented by the international community.

The country’s permanent representative to the UN Camillo Gonsalves said that Kingstown is now facing a triple threat to its survival: globalisation, climate change and the latest, a clampdown on offshore financial centres.

“Now, we face being stigmatised out of our transition into financial services, as the G20, the OECD and other non-inclusive bodies seek to scapegoat and root out so-called tax havens …,“ Gonsalves said.

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