Bethel: NPOs will have to keep proper records of donations

Non-profit organizations (NPOs) will have to ensure they keep proper records of donations made for Hurricane Dorian relief beyond the 30-day exigency order period, Attorney General Carl Bethel said.

The NPO Bill, 2019, requires charities to keep a record of all donations over $100,000 for at least five years.

The passage of the bill was a requirement of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and is considered crucial legislation to remain off the European Union’s (EU) blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.

“We exercise the due diligence over NPOs through the process of their registration and their declaration of keeping financial records. All NPOs are required by law now to maintain financial records for five years so that we’ll always be able to check and follow up on anything that is suspicious,” Bethel said.

Last year, Bethel said the lack of any meaningful supervision of non-profit organizations in the legal system is a matter of grave concern to international watchdogs. He pointed to the fact that the funding of 9/11 terrorists took place through non-profit organizations, specifically religious charities.

Asked about concerns related to bad agents using the devastation caused by Dorian to slip under the radar, Bethel said, “We are not at this point concerned about nefarious intentions.”

Under the exigency order that came into effect last week, it is not necessary for anyone to be a registered charity for the first 30 days.

“The idea was to facilitate self-help groupings, persons who are really motivated to bring disaster relief such as, for example, the law enforcement officers from Florida, several different pension funds, the boaters in West Palm Beach, the boaters’ association. These are not registered charities either here or elsewhere, but the point was to open the gates to allow civil society to play a meaningful role in assisting broadly with hurricane relief efforts,” Bethel said.

“So, for the first 30 days, you do not have to be a registered charity in order to avail yourself in receipt of hurricane relief supplies or to arrange to give hurricane relief supplies. After 30 days then NEMA will begin to restore the normal process, which is to require that registered charities be involved in the receipt of these sorts of supplies, but right now in this period of urgency, the exigency order clearly carved out a 30-day period where basically the ability of civil society organizations, whether they’re registered or not to provide hurricane relief, is facilitated.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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