The Bahamas government has tabled further legal changes in Parliament in a final bid to avoid the jurisdiction being blacklisted by the European Union.
The Minnis administration said it will unveil amendments to the Commercial Entities (Substance Requirements) Act to satisfy the 28-nation bloc's demands following the prime minister's recent trip to Brussels, local news outlet Tribune reports.
"The amendments follow the latest round of high-level discussions between senior government officials and the European Commission, and take into account feedback received from the commission following an assessment of the legislation," the government said.
The amendments follow the latest round of high-level discussions between senior government officials and the European Commission, and take into account feedback received from the commission following an assessment of the legislation"
The Act, passed in December 2018, was meant to satisfy the EU Code of Conduct (Business Taxation) Group's demands regarding companies' physical presence in a jurisdiction, but apparently fell short in its treatment of holding companies and residence criteria.
The EU is expected to update the blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions - different from the money laundering blacklist - this month or next, and at least six other jurisdictions are considered at risk.
In particular, the government said today's changes will alter the sections relating to "holding companies and resident criteria".
"The Commercial Entities (Substance Requirements) (Amendment) Bill 2019 expands and clarifies various definitions, and substance and reporting requirements under the original legislation," the statement said.
"Government worked closely with key stakeholders in the financial services sector in preparing the amendments to the Commercial Entities (Substance Requirements) Act. International advisers were also consulted.
"The amendments reinforce the government's intent to take all necessary steps to safeguard the financial services sector and maintain the industry's competitive edge, and ensure the removal of The Bahamas from all watch lists in the shortest time frame possible."
The deputy prime minister previously admitted there may be "some initial contraction" as the Bahamian financial services sector adjusts to its new regulatory regime, but expressed confidence it will ultimately "come back stronger".
The government met with the financial services industry on Monday to discuss the proposed changes, and has also met with the opposition on the matter.