Bahamas PM Davis accuses international financial regulators of discrimination

Philip Davis

Prime Minister Philip Davis has said there are elements of racism in the motives of developed countries as they push for greater regulation of the financial services sectors of “black-governed” states and former European colonies.

In his address to the United Nations General Assemblylast week, Davis said the Bahamian financial industry is one of the best regulated in the world yet it has been under attack by international bodies such as the European Union and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“Why is it that European States that operate frameworks akin to that of blacklisted countries are not even being [considered] eligible for inclusion on this list? Why are all the countries being targeted, small and vulnerable and former colonies of European states?” he asked.

“We find it astounding that the two to three trillion dollars, which is estimated to be laundered in the developing countries, are never flagged as causes for concern.”

He said the evidence is mounting that these attacks on the financial sectors of smaller states are not motivated by compliance but “darker issues of prejudged discriminatory perceptions”.

“Black governed countries also matter,” he declared.

Davis said his government would support efforts to reform the global financial sector but it should apply to all countries and not some.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley made a similar plea to the US Congress last week when she gave testimony during a special hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services titled: “When Banks Leave: The Impacts of De-Risking on the Caribbean and Strategies for Ensuring Financial Access”.

She said Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states have lost over 30 per cent of their correspondent banking relationships due to unfair and arbitrary classifications of the regional financial sector from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the OECD.

“Those correspondent banks, over the course of the last ten to 12 years, have made a judgment that we are simply too small, as I’ve just told you, in order to get involved because the enhanced due diligence means increased cost of regulation, increased cost of compliance. And rather than do business with us, they say, ‘Thank you but no thank you.'”

She noted that the pressure is driving some countries to go underground in their financial dealing and it is defeating the purpose of financial regulations.