Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) Randy Graham says he is not overly concerned about Barbados’ reputation as an international financial centre in light of the Panama Papers scandal.
Thirty-four companies here were among the 200,000 named in the 11.5 million confidential papers leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, detailing the establishment of offshore companies for the global elite.
Graham said that in the scheme of things, 34 companies were “not even a drop in the bucket” and that there was nothing to suggest that Barbados had been “touched in any material way”.
“As to whether Barbados is touched, I understand that we have 34 companies; I don’t know that there is any issue. At this point we are just looking for data, but even if we are touched it is not in any material way,” he told journalists at a news conference today at the FSC’s Harbour Road, St Michael office, during which he outlined the company’s achievements over the past five years.
The FSC boss explained that the companies here were legitimate and properly regulated. He repeated the point already made by various Government and industry representatives, including Minister of International Business Donville Inniss and Executive Director of the Barbados International Business Association Henderson Holmes that Barbados is not a tax haven.
However, like Holmes, who told Barbados TODAY in an interview yesterday that he was concerned that the country would still be “tarred with the same brush” as other jurisdictions, Graham was of the view that Barbados would likely be lumped with tax havens, which could prove costly.
“So I can’t say we are overly concerned about it. Only to the extent that these international persons come and release this information, they pull Barbados in and then we go under this cloud of grey and now we have to spend a bunch of resources responding and confirming our position as a well-regulated jurisdiction. That is the unfortunate nature of it, and we will do it,” he said.
“Barbados is an international financial centre. We have international companies registered here. Barbados is not a tax haven by any definition of the word you use. If you go to the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development], IMF [International Monetary Fund], however they use it, our tax regime does not apply any differently to any category of company,” Graham stressed.
The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom reported this week that the British music tycoon Simon Cowell, who holidays here frequently, was among those named in the leak.
Making it clear that there was nothing to suggest that Cowell sheltered, or sought to shelter, money or assets offshore to avoid tax or for any unlawful purpose, it reported that the X-Factor boss was named in the papers as the sole shareholder of two British Virgin Islands companies that were set up at a time when Cowell was planning to purchase two plots of land as part of the doomed Four Seasons development at the 32-acre Paradise Beach site in Black Rock, St Michael.