Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance Mark Brantley has expressed concern over what he describes as a misleading and grossly inaccurate article on Nevis’s offshore financial services.
British media outlet The Guardian ran a story in its international edition last week focused on the island, labelling it the “world’s most secretive haven” that “refuses to clean up”.
Brantley stressed that contrary allegations made by writer Oliver Bullough, Nevis – and entire federation of St Kitts and Nevis – has been consistently reviewed by the international regulatory agencies and has recently been graded as “Largely Compliant” by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
This is a “grading which clearly demonstrates the country’s continuing commitment to meeting high standards of regulatory compliance in all its operations,” said a statement from the Nevis Island Administration.
Both the OECD and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) have assessed the jurisdiction’s compliance status as being largely in line with international requirements as to disclosure and maintenance of adequate records that would identify beneficial owners by competent authorities making the appropriate enquiries.
The Premier said that “while the important right to privacy continues to be pejoratively interpreted by certain elements of the media as being deliberately secretive, the truth is that there are adequate measures for disclosing the identity of beneficial owners of companies registered in Nevis, and such, information can be disclosed in circumstances where legitimate enquiries are being made by the relevant authorities of jurisdictions that are parties to the several information exchange treaties and agreements to which the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis is a party.”
Disclosure of information is permitted for the purpose of pursuing allegations of wrongdoing by the competent authorities under enabling legislation. Disclosure of information is also entirely permissible through court proceedings to compel disclosure where a right to disclosure arises.
The Financial Services Regulatory Commission confirms that under the laws of Nevis there exists “various mechanisms in place for sharing information with treaty, law enforcement and regulatory counterparts and several provisions in our legislation exist to sanction any entity incorporated in Nevis which is proven by local or foreign law enforcement to be involved in criminal or illicit activity.”
Information held on a Nevis entity by the Nevis Regulator or by any licensed service provider in Nevis, may not be disseminated to any person not legitimately connected to that entity except in the context of wrongdoing being asserted by competent local or foreign authorities or pursuant to Court order.
“Mr Bullough is not a competent or foreign regulatory authority as defined in the treaties or any relevant legislation in force in Nevis. He could not therefore sensibly expect to simply pop up in Nevis and demand information to which he is not entitled,” said Brantley.
A statement issued by the Nevis Island Administration said: “Nevis is a small island and no doubt perceived by powerful international media outlets as an easy target for highly defamatory and misleading allegations.
“The Premier condemns this irresponsible approach to journalism and the very real harm it can cause to the reputation and economy of the island of Nevis.”
Nevis will continue to ensure that it is a well-managed and properly regulated International Financial Centre and shall continue to comply with all international regulatory standards, it added.