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The AG’s Flawed Argument

The Clifton Review

 

The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires, the links to unsavory characters, the use of the courts for personal agendas, the involvement of a political party, and the attacks on the Government of The Bahamas.

 

We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings. This series of articles asks the needed questions and presents the arguments in full.

 

By P.J. Malone

 

 

The Government of The Bahamas’ Attorney General, Carl Bethel made several statements that were contradictory when he accused the former Administration of overreach with respect to requirements of non-profits to submit information in compliance with new regulations and legislation.

 

In the Tribune article “Ag Blasts Christie Govt For Save The Bays ‘Overreach’” it included several quotes from the Attorney General:

 

“‘Our predecessors seem to have been somewhat selective in the non-profits they went after and got sued for it,’ the Attorney General told Tribune Business.”

 

Wait a minute; how could the previous Government have been selective if the Registrar General’s Department required more than 100 non-profits to submit information?

 

And, how could the previous Government have been selective if the Registrar General’s Department’s requests to non-profits continued after the General Elections in May?

 

As stated in the article,

 

“However, the Government’s efforts to impose tighter regulation on non-profits through the Companies (Non-Profit Organisation) Regulations 2014 and other companies-related legislation continued after the May 10 general election.

 

“A July 19 newspaper advertisement gave hundreds of non-profit organisations just two weeks to supply details of the organisation’s purpose, objective and activities; identity of persons who control or direct the activities of the organisation, including senior officers, directors, and trustees; annual financial statements and records that show and explain transactions within and outside the Bahamas, and show that monies have been used in a manner consistent with its objective and activities; and the source of gross annual income of the organisation.”

 

Well, there you have it Mr. Attorney General.

 

In the article, the Attorney General was also quoted as saying,

 

“‘The only basis on which you can demand to see the accounts for those entities is if you have genuine reasons to suspect them of money laundering or terrorism financing.’”

 

But Attorney General Carl Bethel turned around and confirmed the reasons for the non-profit organization regulations, which require records from non-profits. The article reads,

 

“Mr Bethel yesterday confirmed that the enhanced non-profit organisation regulations were intended to ensure the Bahamas meets international standards for combating money laundering and terrorism financing. ‘All of these steps we’ve been taking incrementally are all part of a broad-based effort to address each and every concern,’ he told Tribune Business.”

 

The article goes further in clarifying the need for the new regulations for non-profits that were enacted by the previous Administration:

 

“The Bahamas’ concerns were heightened after the latest Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) (see other article on Page 1B), which found numerous deficiencies and weaknesses in this nation’s defences against financial crime.”

 

The Bahamas new non-profit regulations in response to the concerns serve no purpose if they are not acted upon.

 

In his accusations against the previous Administration, the Attorney General was also quoted in the article as saying, “‘An inability to show you have legitimate reasons to demand the accounts is what led to the Save the Bays lawsuit, which is now settled,’”

 

How was it settled exactly? So Save The Bays doesn’t have to comply with the new regulations but all of the other non-profits do?

 

Let’s put aside the new non-profit regulations for a moment: Know that Save The Bays is a United States 501(c)3 organization. According to their regulations, any one can demand to see their financial records!

 

Mr. Attorney General, your arguments don’t make sense. You are dangerously close to the edge, if not over the edge, in showing preferential treatment to Save The Bays.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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