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Detailed presentation to prepare professionals for compliance

Yesterday, Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle, director of financial services, spoke at a luncheon for Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), outlining in detail the country’s position when it comes to being compliant under FATCA.

Shortly after addressing the meeting, Virgil-Rolle said it’s all a part of the ministry’s mandate to educate industry professionals on what’s happen in the financial services sector both locally and internationally.

“We took this opportunity to do a very detailed presentation so that we can ensure that everyone is getting ready for FATCA,” she said.

“We looked at the overview of FATCA and what model IGA was about. We went through the agreement, article by article to look at all of the definitions closely, particularly who is a U.S. person, who is U.S. specified person and who is a financial institution, which is broader than our typical definition.

“We also went through the requirements for what it means to comply with FATCA and the due diligence requirements that would be necessary for our financial institutions.

“The concerns come from the fact that FATCA is a very dense piece of U.S. legislation. It’s 544 pages long. The IGA is about 40 pages but still relies very heavily on U.S tax code. So it came from making sure that we understand what our institutions actually are and for non-financial entities, what should those reporting requirements be. So it was the details like that came up,” Virgill-Rolle added.

Former STEP Chairperson Anita Bain said there is still “a lot” of work that needs to be done but is optimistic that all institutions will be compliant in time.

“This has been on the drawing board for many years now, so firms have been working towards it. So I think much of the work has already been done,” Bain said.

“The delays have given us an opportunity to get the work done so that once it’s implemented, everyone is onboard.”

Just last week, Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder confirmed that his ministry is looking to take an “umbrella” approach to the legislation that must be passed locally in time for the country to be compliant under FATCA.

He said The Bahamas is “well advanced” and will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure that Bahamian entities are permitted to conduct business without impediments in global markets.

Pinder estimates that FATCA is set to impact between “600 to 2,000” businesses operating in The Bahamas.

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