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Bahamas Urges UN To Protect Offshore Financial Services

by Mike Godfrey,, New York

07 October 2013

The prime minister of the Bahamas, Perry Christie, called on the United Nations to help develop multilateral global mechanisms for the governance of offshore financial services, warning that high-powered States were trying to force their will on smaller nations like his own and cut off their livelihood.

Christie made the comments during the annual general debate of the UN General Assembly on September 28, 2013.

"We see this same dynamic at work in the ongoing economic aggression of many of the more developed countries against small offshore financial service-based economies, especially in the Caribbean region of which The Bahamas is a part," Christie said.

He continued: "Some have used their power either unilaterally or in small groups of high-powered nations to impose their will, arguing that there is something fundamentally immoral, something intrinsically sinister, about the accumulation of wealth in offshore jurisdictions. We reject that premise and we criticize in the strongest possible terms the efforts of some to maim and cripple, if not destroy, the offshore economies within our region."

He stressed that the anti-money-laundering, anti-terrorism funding and anti-criminal regulatory regimes of many of these economies are "far more robust and demonstrably far more effective than the corresponding regulatory regimes in many of the same countries that are leading the fight against us."

He noted that offshore financial services can be responsibly operated and regulated and that most of the investment of offshore wealth takes place in and generally benefits the developed world.

"Unilateralism and diplomacy-by-coercion are not the way the world should be dealing with this issue," Mr. Christie said.

"Instead we need to challenge the UN to take the lead in developing and refining multilateral global mechanisms for the governance of the offshore financial services sector; mechanisms that will meet the legitimate demands of the developed world for the protection of their fiscal systems and their need for greater security, while at the same time allowing offshore financial service economies to continue to grow in an orderly and properly regulated way.

"And let us not forget that the destruction of these offshore financial service economies will destabilize the countries that depend upon them for their livelihood. To destroy this sector in the Caribbean would effectively cause tens of thousands of newly empowered middle class citizens to slip back into poverty or to migrate to the developed world."

TAGS: money-laundering | investment | Bahamas | financial services | United Nations (UN) | offshore | services

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