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Blacklisting fallout. Swiss blame Bahamian authorities

by C. E. Hug­gins

NASSAU, The Bahamas: Swiss author­i­ties recent­ly blamed The Bahamas for the fail­ure of an inves­ti­ga­tion into Al Taqwa Man­age­ment Organ­i­sa­tion now Nada Man­age­ment Organ­i­sa­tion. The inves­ti­ga­tion goes back to 9/11 when US author­i­ties dis­cov­ered that a bin Laden (not that bin Laden) was asso­ci­at­ed with Al Taqwa.

In Decem­ber 2000 the gov­ern­ment of The Bahamas cre­at­ed leg­is­la­tion that it believed would remove it from the OECD’s black­list

As part of this exer­cise Bahami­an reg­u­la­tors decid­ed they would no longer enter­tain banks that had no phys­i­cal pres­ence in The Bahamas. Scores of banks, deroga­to­ri­ly known as brass plate banks, did their home­work and decid­ed to close shop.

Accord­ing to Al Taqwa’s Bahami­an attor­ney and rep­re­sen­ta­tive Sean Han­na, Youssef Nada, Al Taqwa’s founder, had decid­ed that their Bahami­an oper­a­tions did not war­rant the added expense of a phys­i­cal pres­ence and had decid­ed to wind up the oper­a­tion. The Cen­tral Bank had giv­en a grace peri­od for such banks to make the nec­es­sary arrange­ments.

Then 9/11 came along. The Gov­ern­ment of The Bahamas in a show of sup­port for the US, seized accounts of per­sons and or organ­i­sa­tions, includ­ing those of Al Taqwa, that accord­ing to infor­ma­tion sup­plied by US author­i­ties, were either of sus­pect ori­gin or demon­strat­ed strong ter­ror­ism con­nec­tions. Bahami­an author­i­ties deter­mined that none of the frozen funds (over $30 mil­lion) or any of the indi­vid­u­als had had any con­nec­tions with or sup­port for known ter­ror­ists or their organ­i­sa­tions.

Al Taqwa found itself the sub­ject of inves­ti­ga­tions by both Swiss and Bahami­an reg­u­la­tors. As can best be deter­mined, the inves­ti­ga­tions arose because some Al Taqwa investors bore the unfor­tu­nate last name of bin Laden. It is alleged that the gen­tle­man was one of the scores of sib­lings of the world’s most want­ed man Osama bin Laden.

The Swiss author­i­ties con­duct­ed an inves­ti­ga­tion; this was in 2001, and con­clud­ed that Al Taqwa’s oper­a­tions in Switzer­land were well with­in the pre­scribed bound­aries of fidu­cia­ry respon­si­bil­i­ty.

As Mr. Han­na stat­ed at the time, the only change required of Al Taqwa Man­age­ment Organ­i­sa­tion by the Swiss bank­ing reg­u­la­to­ry body, was a name change. The Swiss felt this would avoid any pos­si­ble con­fu­sion between the bank­ing oper­a­tions in The Bahamas and the Man­age­ment oper­a­tion in Switzer­land.

Al Taqwa Man­age­ment Organ­i­sa­tion in Switzer­land became the Nada Man­age­ment Organ­i­sa­tion named after the founder.

In 2002 the Cen­tral Bank of The Bahamas issued a press release in which it stat­ed that Al Taqwa’s licence to oper­ate a bank in The Bahamas was being revoked for secu­ri­ty rea­sons.

Mr. Han­na dis­put­ed the Cen­tral Bank’s sug­ges­tion that Al Taqwa Bank in The Bahamas had been asked to close its oper­a­tions because of secu­ri­ty risks.

Accord­ing to doc­u­ments pro­vid­ed by Mr. Han­na at the time, the Cen­tral Bank, in all its assess­ments, had not only found Al Taqwa’s con­duct accept­able but also specif­i­cal­ly stat­ed that the bank was a wel­come mem­ber of the com­mu­ni­ty of banks and trusts in The Bahamas.

Indeed the Cen­tral Bank not only offered to extend the peri­od required for non-res­i­dent banks to become res­i­dent if they so wished but also praised the bank as a out­stand­ing mem­ber of the bank­ing com­mu­ni­ty, and expressed the wish that the bank would become a res­i­dent bank.

Now Swiss author­i­ties, unable to find the smok­ing gun among Al Taqwa’s oper­a­tions, claimed that Bahami­an reg­u­la­tors had not giv­en “a usable response” to their request for judi­cial assis­tance, hence the sus­pen­sion of their inves­ti­ga­tions against Al Taqwa.

The record will show how­ev­er that Al Taqwa’s Bahami­an oper­a­tions were wound up in the first half of 2002.

Cen­tral Bank doc­u­ments stat­ed that Al Taqwa was an accept­able mem­ber of the juris­dic­tion.

Acced­ing to the OECD’s black­list­ing require­ments, may have helped the juris­dic­tion but it also made it pos­si­ble, as it appears to be in this instance, for author­i­ties to blame the fail­ure of inves­ti­ga­tions on Bahami­an reg­u­la­tors.


One comment for “Blacklisting fallout. Swiss blame Bahamian authorities”

  1. Ummm....so did it just occur to Swiss author­i­ties that much of the world views the coun­try as a giant tax haven? Because that opin­ion has been around for a while.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 31, 2012, 9:54 am

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