Setting up a charity in Barbados will not be as ‘simple’ as it has been for the past 40 years.
That’s because new legislation will see a more stringent procedure as it relates to divulging information about the charity and its trustees.
Attorney General Dale Marshall said the changes could not be avoided as Barbados continues to align itself with what international regulatory body Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is demanding. The AG made the disclosure while leading off debate in the House of Assembly on both the Companies (Amendment) Act and Charities (Amendment) Act.
“We will be required in the new form to set out information that is more useful to regulators and that would allow an agency that has to investigate what a charity is doing to be able to get information on the individuals.
“You will now have to provide the full names, addresses and occupations of the trustees. You will have to provide information on any properties that they own. You will also have to provide information on any applicant trustee or beneficiary who has held prominent public office in any international organisation.”
The chief lawmaker said that while the process was “simple” it did not provide enough information in order for regulators to properly police the operations of the charity.
“It is a very simple form but for all its simplicity, it has to be admitted that there is not enough factual material which would allow for effective regulation. Even though we have operated in this way since 1979 the fact is that in an environment where you have to deal with money laundering commitments, where you have to deal with transparency issues, that form and that formula are really inadequate.
“If we were going to pass a bill today we would immediately reject that form providing minimal information to a regulator as being not in keeping with modern requirements. It is easy to use but impossible to regulate,” Marshall said.
He went on to explain the existing procedure: “The method of registering our charities in Barbados as exists today, all that you have to do Mr Speaker, is sign a form which says: We, being trustees for and you name the charity – hereby apply to be incorporated as a board under the provisions of The Charities Act. We desire the name of the board to be – so you will say John Brown Charity – and you would say where the office is going to be. All the trustees sign it. You don’t give the address of any trustee. You don’t have to provide any information on who the trustees are.”
The MP for St Joseph said the change will also affect parliamentarians who use charities to service their constituents.
“The Charities Act has been a friend to many of us parliamentarians because a number of us set up charities in order to serve our constituents. There is a good reason for that. They are some people who are prepared to donate to a registered charity but they are not prepared to fund a particular parliamentarian…. They don’t want to be seen as being aligned or owing any allegiance to any particular political party.”