Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite has taken the local media to task for not defending the integrity of Barbados’ international business sector in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal.
So far, 34 unnamed local companies have been listed in the Panama Papers, described as history’s biggest data leak with an unprecedented 11.5 million files from the database of the world’s biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca.
While acknowledging that the international business sector was second only to tourism in terms of supporting the country’s way of life, Brathwaite was insistent that Barbados was not a tax haven.
Addressing the monthly meeting of the St James South constituency branch of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), he also complained that the sector was also held up to scrutiny by the local media.
“The only thing that I have seen in the Barbados media has been how many Barbadian companies are involved [with] no recognition or appreciation of the potential damage that can follow if [the Panama Papers leak] was not properly handled.
“There is nothing in our media that supports the sector and that describes the sector as being mostly legitimate. There is nothing that describes Barbados as being dependent on its double taxation treaties and its investment protection treaties,” the Attorney General further lamented.
Brathwaite also took a swipe at the international media for suggesting that “once you have a company in a jurisdiction like Barbados, then something illegal is happening”.
However, he was adamant that this was not true, arguing that Barbados has maintained good relations with Canada, one of our major sources of international business, because of the integrity of the sector.
“If this claim was true Canada would have closed down our sector many years ago,” he stressed.
The St Philip South MP identified such professionals as lawyers, accountants, corporate secretaries, ordinary secretaries and even ordinary workers such as maids and carpenters as beneficiaries of the sector.
While noting that much negative press is being directed at such countries as Nigeria, Zimbabwee, Angola, Kenya and Russia, not a word is said about the USA and the United Kingdom except for the fact that Prime Minister David Cameron benefited from his father’s illegitimate structure which was set up in the Bahamas 40 years ago.
Brathwaite repeated his warning to the local media that it cannot allow the word to go out that Barbados is a tax haven and it is a jurisdiction for hiding dirty money.