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The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) could have a minimal impact on internal operations at leading financial institutions, according a leading accounting firm. Lawrence Lewis, a partner at Deloitte & Touche, noted that FATCA would have "very little direct impact on our internal operations".
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Enhanced reporting requirements could give the Bahamian financial services industry the opportunity "to go after US clients" once again, a leading accountant said yesterday, pointing out that marginal, per client compliance costs would be "substantially reduced" by upfront systems investment.
Lawrence Lewis, the Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas) partner, speaking to Tribune Business after addressing a Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) seminar on the issue, said the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) provisions would create a regulatory 'level playing field' since all jurisdictions would be required to adhere to i ...
Bahamas Resolve Ltd. Chairman James Smith said it is likely that there will be a difference between the value Bank of The Bahamas places on the loans transferred to Resolve and the value Deloitte & Touche places on those same assets. Smith also reported that parties have already begun expressing interest in purchasing the assets on the Resolve books.
In order to return Bank of The Bahamas to Central Bank of The Bahamas mandated levels of liquidity last year, the Christie administration created a special purpose vehicle - Resolve - on October 31, 2014 and transferred non-performing commercial loans with a book value of $100 million to the new entity. In exchange, the government issued the bank $100 million in bonds backed by a "letter of comfort". The bonds allowed the bank to return to proper levels of liquidity.
Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis called it "a made in The Bahamas solution".
Smith spoke with Guardian Business about the work of Resolve, and pointed out that Deloitte & Touche - the accounting firm hired by the government to collect on the loans - is at present doing an assessment of what it believes to be the value of the assets that were transferred, which Smith assured is likely to be different from the bank valuation.
Bank of The Bahamas' own records show the actual value of the bad loans at $45 million, which means the bank generated $55 million in shareholder equity through the transaction.
"The accounting guys are now looking at what has been transferred and they will probably even be visiting the sites and making an evaluation and in some cases they might even have to go out and get a real estate appraisal," Smith explained.
"Yes, I expect there will be differences. I have no idea how large the difference, but I also know that the final count would be once you have cleared up all of the assets and determined the actual as opposed to the projected or provisional losses."
Smith explained that Deloitte and Touche will prepare and present a set of financials on the company, which would show their valuation versus what is on the book.
Assets generating interest
Smith also reported - without citing specifics - that the collateral assets on Resolve's books are the subject of interest.
"People might know of the properties that are being transferred, and in their mind it might be something sought after, so they would approach the auditing company," Smith said.
"In this town, nothing is really secret, so they would hear about it from one source or the other."
"So that has been happening," he insisted.
Pressed for information about those assets, Smith revealed that he still had not yet been briefed as to what exactly was transferred to Resolve, or what were the underlaying assets.
He told Guardian Business that administrative maneuvering was underway to properly seat the four new directors of the company, which he said could be completed as early as next week. Once that is done, the board will be able to meet and be briefed by Deloitte & Touche on the state of affairs.
Name: Shonalee Munroe
Industry position: Vice president of operations.
Education and training: CPA; successfully completed series 6 and 7 examinations as well as STEP diploma.
Career: Investment fund services.
What attracted you to the sector?
I got my first real look into the working of the industry while I was employed at Deloitte and Touche Nassau and seconded to the Securities Commission of The Bahamas. As the lead for the inspection department, I had an opportunity to translate my audit and consulting skills into a real time application of the Investment Funds Act and Regulation and how they impact businesses and how they were constructed to help control the face the industry would put on our country. I saw that financial services was a good match for me from a learning perspective and to become an ambassador of my country, as I offer quality services to the world.
How long have you been involved in financial services? What keeps you motivated?
With my audit training, I have worked in financial services for over 15 years. Working in the offshore industry, and as a Bahamian, I am proud when clients connect with my company and feel that their business needs are secure with us. No doubt we operate in a very global economy, and the fact that investors and investment managers still hold significant confidence in us is a great accomplishment. I am motivated to keep The Bahamas at the forefront of their minds as a premium alternative among offshore centers. I am also cognizant that it is not just a matter of talking the talk, but creating regulatory and productive ingenuity to keep us on the cutting edge.
Why do you think you have been successful?
My parents would often say to me and my siblings that failure was not an option. While that may seem like a lot of pressure...it wasn't, but in fact it became a benchmark for everything we aimed to do in life - academically, socially or spiritually. It was a motivation to believe in ourselves, regardless of the obstacles. I think I could say that my drive for success is coined by three brief principles: faith in God, fairness and integrity. I would also have to add the old adage that it takes a village.
Did mentoring play a part in your success?
Undoubtedly, and I couldn't have asked for a better start than working with the partners and team at Deloitte & Touche. I was blessed with challenging opportunities almost from day one. Since leaving Deloitte, I have worked with very good team members but have been guided in my career by my company's Managing Director Antoine Bastian, who has established our company's culture to be one of mentorship and learning. I'm very proud to be a part of this team.
What qualifications do you feel are the most useful in helping you perform in the sector?
I think of accounting as the global degree. With it, and for me working in the audit field, I can see how it provided the opportunity of insight into many different industries so that I was better able to determine what would best suit me. From the CEO to an entrepreneur, the skills I would have acquired would help anyone in business to succeed. It gives the opportunity to participate in other aspects of business outside of accounting, such as law and corporate matters, banking and administration.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career and or industry? How did you overcome it?
I think that the biggest challenge is work-life balance. As a woman, particularly, it is difficult sometimes to draw the lines. Again, I have been blessed to work in establishments that understand this challenge and offer considerable support to female employees. Having a supportive family would be the balance to that equation. That said, I think that if you are prepared to work hard, be fair and demonstrate commitment to your career, the opportunities for success will still follow.
What advice would you give young people just starting out in the industry?
I would advise young persons considering a career in business/accounting/financial services to be diligent. One step at a time is my philosophy. Don't be anxious about where the journey will lead you, but enjoy the ride and ensure that whenever you change jobs or even engagements, your counterparts will reflect upon you as a person they would always choose to have on the team. I would say be a person of integrity; build professional reputations based on honesty and trust. Don't be afraid to teach those around you. Sure they will know more, but you'll also become more confident in what you know and it will inspire you to grow!
Tyrone Knowles of the Fidelity Bulldogs led all scorers in the City Bowling League Wednesday night with a 214 high game and 576 high set. Lavardo Butler also of the Fidelity Bulldogs had a strong performance as well, with a 567 three game set. Sammy Symonette of the Coca-Cola Strike Force team toppled the pins for the second high game of the night, scoring 212. The ladies were led by 'red hot' Uchena Delva of Deloitte & Touche who destroyed the pins for a 213 high game and a 559 three game set that also registered as the ladies second high set of the season. Patrina Cartwright was the runner-up player of the evening with a 485 set while Monique Miller of Coca-Cola toppled the pins for a 212 second high game.
Coca-Cola Strike Force 2, BAF Financial 1
Fidelity Bulldogs 2, Sunshine Insurance Shockers 1
Leno Corporate Services 2, Deloitte & Touche 1
Forsythe Communications 2, Budweiser Strikers 1
The Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF) continues the celebration of its 10th anniversary with the highlighting of a decade of successful accomplishments. The BBF Patron for 2012 is the legendary Ed Armbrister - a member of the two-time World Series Champions - the Cincinnati Reds. Armbrister has been the guest of the BBF at the first three membership league openings in January. The 2012 baseball season openings will continue this weekend with the opening of the Grand Bahama Little League. The opening ceremony for the Legacy Baseball League, in Grand Bahama, will be held on February 4, the grand opening for the All Abaco Baseball League will be held on February 11, and the opening ceremony for the Eleuthera Baseball League will be held on February 18.
Bahamian Super Featherweight Champion now knows who his opponent will be for the first segment of a 'King of the Ring' series being staged by Major Promotions and Entertainment. Major will step into the ring on February 4 at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium against Haitian boxer Jean Petite Homme. Major said that he is ready for the challenge and is looking forward to representing the Bahamian people well. "I'm just thankful to the Almighty God for giving me this opportunity, and to everyone who has supported me over the years," he said. The official weigh-in for the fight will be held Friday February 3, at Mario's Bowling and Family Entertainment Palace.
Bahamian businessmen will have to undergo a fundamental "mindset" change when this nation accedes to full World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership, this nation's chief negotiator believes, investigating new opportunities and learning the rules themselves rather than relying on the Government to do it for them.
Such a 'culture shock' will be many of the major adjustments for the Bahamian private sector, Raymond Winder, the Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas) managing partner, told Tribune Business, pointing out that by joining the WTO and signing on to other trade agreements, such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), this natio ...
Swift Swimming Club will be hosting the first open water swim race of the new swim season.
The 1.67 kilometer (k) and 5k events are being sponsored by Deloitte & Touche, Starbucks, Palm Cay and Chives. It will take place Saturday, September 28, at Palm Cay...
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
NO SINGLE foreign law is likely to impact the Bahamian financial services industry more than the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a well-known accountant telling Tribune Business yesterday its effects would be "the same or greater" than previous international efforts.
Lawrence Lewis, a partner at Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas), said that while the likes of the US Qualified Intermediary (QI) initiative, and OECD/FATF efforts, had tended to focus on one particular aspect of the financial services industry, Washington's FATCA initiative would touch multiple areas simultaneously.
"In order of magnitude, I would say it is t ...