Barbados Update by Tony Murty
The OECD has removed Barbados from “The List of Uncooperative Tax Havens”. The mutually agreed press release made on 31 January 2002 stated that Barbados has a “transparent tax and regulatory systems and has in place a mechanism that enables effective exchange of information”. Some commentators believe this gives an open invitation to any country to enter into double taxation treaty negotiations, which will add to the growing number of treaties already in place.
New legislation has included changes to bring the domestic law into line with the obligations under the Caribbean Community (“Caricom”) treaty. In addition there have been more reporting requirements introduced by the International Business (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2001-29 and the Money Laundering (Prevention and Control) Act 1998-38 was further expanded and strengthened by The Amendment Act ¹.
Modification of the Companies Act Cap.308 principally directed to domestic companies has had an unexpected impact on the international business sector. All of the International Financial Services legislation involving companies is affected by these changes. Unlike some other jurisdictions, the various implementing laws governing international business do not stand on their own; where companies are involved they are formed or registered under the Companies Act. All these companies are therefore; regulated by the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office independently of and in addition to the Ministry of Industry and International Business, which grants the special licences.
Along with the principal legislative changes the regulations have been amended and new forms with additional disclosures have been created. Not all of these are yet complete and the latest information is that further changes to eliminate unintended disclosure and compliance requirements are still under consideration. It is worthy of note that the confidentiality of information was always at the forefront of the changes and the law includes such words as – “is confidential and not available to the public”.