Categorized | National News

Registrar General Clarifies Concerns over Disclosure Notice- -Christian Council President Seeks Compliance Extension Date

The Registrar General’s Department responded yesterday to concerns arising from the recent Non-Profit Organizations (NPO) Disclosure Notice and explained why the process is conducted while correcting a false assertion.

According to the Registrar General’s Department, the assertion, reported in another daily, that the Registrar General can only request financials from a non-profit organization where the Registrar General is “of the view that non-profits are engaged in terror financing” is incorrect as Section 123 of the Companies Act gives the Registrar General the authority to request financials at any time in writing.

“The department wishes to advise that NPO’s are governed by the Companies Act as well as the Companies (Non-Profit) Regulations,” a statement issued by the Registrar General’s Department read.

“The Registrar General’s Department is exercising the authority of the Registrar General to ensure that all non-profit organizations are adhering to the 2014 Regulations and further, that The Bahamas is seeking to enhance regulatory oversight of the non-profit sector. The 2014 Regulations are not designed to lead to any sort of taxation of non-profit companies or any registered NPOs.”

The Registrar General’s Department explained that the review of all non-profits on the registry is also important to ensure that the department is in compliance with its international obligations, preventing the potential use of non-profits in The Bahamas as vehicles for international criminal activity, and protecting the country’s financial industry which is vital to national development.

“The registrar further asserts that the notice is not intended to allege that any or all NPO’s in The Bahamas are engaged in any form of terrorism financing.  The Register General takes the threat of terrorism and money laundering seriously and is taking every step to ensure that companies incorporated/registered are operating in an environment in compliance Bahamian Law,” the statement read.

“It is the intention of the Registrar General to similarly give notice to all unincorporated friendly societies and to review the position as it affects other NPOs. Legal advice will in some cases be required to determine all the categories of NPOs to which the 2014 Regulations apply. Based on such further legal advice the categories of non-profit entities may widen further.”

The vast majority of non-profit organizations listed by the Registrar General’s Office to become compliant with the law are churches.

As a result, Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander said during a press conference yesterday that he would like the date for compliance to be extended and he and other church leaders will be meeting with Attorney General Carl Bethel concerning the matter.

“Since the publication of this list and the calls of concern from various church leaders, I have met with Attorney General Sen. Hon. Carl Bethel, who has agreed to meet with church leaders. He has stated that he is willing to answer any questions that they may have concerning the matter at that time,” Bishop Fernander said.

“The law of the land must be followed and I agree that such organizations must be in compliance with the laws that govern their operation.  What gave me pause is the manner in which the call for compliance was carried out.  A non-profit organization by and large depends on the charity of others in order to meet its mandate.  This in mind and the fact that these are mostly houses of worship, it would have been prudent for this to be handled in another way.   One in which the perception would not have been cast that the churches of the country are intentionally breaking the law.”

The Registrar General’s Office has given NPOs 14 days from the date of the publication of the list to become compliant with the law pertaining to non-profits that came into effect on August 6, 2014.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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