Agreement Norway - Bahamas

Agreement between the Kingdom of Norway and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas concerning information on tax matters.

Considering that the Parties have agreed to join forces for greater  transparency and exchange of information in tax matters and in order  to promote bilateral cooperation and good faith relations in the future  between Norway and The Bahamas, the Government of the Kingdom of  Norway and the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas have  agreed to conclude an agreement on exchange of information in relation  to tax matters as follows:

Article 1

Object and Scope of the Agreement

The competent authorities of the Contracting Parties shall provide  assistance through exchange of information that is foreseeably relevant  to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the  Contracting Parties concerning taxes covered by this Agreement.  Such information shall include information that is foreseeably relevant  to the determination, assessment and collection of such taxes, the  recovery and enforcement of tax claims, or the investigation or  prosecution of tax matters. Information shall be exchanged in accordance  with the provisions of this Agreement and shall be treated as confidential  in the manner provided in Article 8. The rights and safeguards secured  to persons by the laws or administrative practice of the requested  Party remain applicable to the extent that they do not unduly prevent  or delay effective exchange of information.

Article 2

Jurisdiction

A Requested Party is not obligated to provide information which  is neither held by its authorities nor in the possession or control  of persons who are within its territorial jurisdiction.

Article 3

Taxes Covered

  1. The taxes which are the subject of this  Agreement are taxes of every kind and description imposed in the  Contracting Parties.

  2. This Agreement shall also apply to any identical or substantially  similar taxes imposed after the date of signature of the Agreement  in addition to or in place of the existing taxes. The competent  authorities of the Contracting Parties shall notify each other of  any substantial changes to the taxation and related information  gathering measures covered by the Agreement.

Article 4

Definitions

  1. For the purposes of this Agreement,  unless other­wise defined:

    1. the term «The Bahamas» means  the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and, when used in a geographical  sense, means the territory of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, encompassing  the land, the territorial waters, and in accordance with international law  and Bahamian laws any area outside the territorial waters inclusive  of the exclusive economic zone and the seabed and subsoil over which  The Bahamas exercises jurisdiction and sovereign rights for the  purpose of exploration, exploitation and conservation of natural  resources;

    2. the term «Norway» means the Kingdom of Norway,  and includes the land territory and internal waters, the territorial  sea and the area beyond the territorial sea where the Kingdom of  Norway, according to Norwegian legislation and in accordance with international  law, may exercise her rights with respect to the seabed and subsoil  and their natural resources; the term does not comprise Svalbard,  Jan Mayen and the Norwegian dependencies («biland»);

    3. the term «Contracting Party» means Norway  or The Bahamas as the context requires;

    4. the term «competent authority» means:

      1. in The Bahamas, the Minister of Finance  or the Minister of Finance’s duly authorised representative;

      2. in Norway, the Minister of Finance or the Minister’s  authorised representative;

    5. the term «person» includes an individual,  a company and any other body of persons;

    6. the term «company» means any body corporate  or any entity that is treated as a body corporate for tax purposes;

    7. the term «publicly traded company» means any  company whose principal class of shares is listed on a recognised  stock exchange provided its listed shares can be readily purchased  or sold by the public. Shares can be purchased or sold «by  the public» if the purchase or sale of shares is not implicitly  or explicitly restricted to a limit­ed group of investors;

    8. the term «principal class of shares» means the  class or classes of shares representing a majority of the voting  power and value of the company;

    9. the term «recognised stock exchange» means  any stock exchange agreed upon by the competent authorities of the  Contracting Parties;

    10. the term «collective investment fund or scheme» means  any pooled investment vehicle, irrespective of legal form. The term «public  collective investment fund or scheme» means any collective  investment fund or scheme provided the units, shares or other interests  in the fund or scheme can be readily purchased, sold or redeemed  by the public. Units, shares or other interests in the fund or scheme  can be readily purchased, sold or redeemed «by the public» if the  purchase, sale or redemption is not implicitly or explicitly restricted  to a limited group of investors;

    11. the term «tax» means any tax to which  the Agreement applies;

    12. the term «applicant Party» means the Contracting  Party requesting information;

    13. the term «requested Party» means the Contracting  Party requested to provide information;

    14. the term «information gathering measures» means  laws and administrative or judicial procedures that enable a Contracting  Party to obtain and provide the requested information;

    15. the term «information» means any fact, statement  or record in any form whatever;

    16. the term «criminal tax matters» means  tax matters involving intentional conduct which is liable to prosecution  under the criminal laws of the applicant party;

    17. the term «criminal laws» means all criminal laws  designated as such under domestic law irrespective of whether contained  in the tax laws, the criminal code or other statutes.

  2. As regards the application of this Agreement at any time  by a Contracting Party, any term not defined therein shall, unless  the context otherwise requires, have the meaning that it has at that  time under the law of that Party, any meaning under the applicable  tax laws of that Party prevailing over a meaning given to the term under  other laws of that Party.

Article 5

Exchange of Information Upon Request

  1. The competent authority of the requested  Party shall provide upon request information for the purposes referred  to in Article 1. Such information shall be exchanged without regard  to whether the conduct being investigated would constitute a crime  under the laws of the requested Party if such conduct occurred in  the requested Party.

  2. If the information in the possession of the competent authority  of the requested Party is not sufficient to enable it to comply  with the request for information, that Party shall use all relevant  information gathering measures to provide the applicant Party with  the information requested, notwithstanding that the requested Party  may not need such information for its own tax purposes.

  3. If specifically requested by the competent authority of  an applicant Party, the competent authority of the requested Party  shall provide information under this Article, to the extent allowable  under its domestic laws, in the form of depositions of witnesses  and authenticated copies of original records.

  4. Each Contracting Party shall ensure that its competent authorities  for the purposes specified in Article 1 of the Agreement, have the authority  to obtain and provide upon request:

    1. information held by banks, other financial institutions,  and any person acting in an agency or fiduciary capacity including nominees  and trustees;

    2. information regarding the ownership of companies, partnerships,  trusts, foundation, «Anstalten» and other persons,  including, within the constraints of Article 2, ownership information  on all such persons in an ownership chain; in the case of trusts,  information on settlors, trustees and beneficiaries; and in the  case of foundations, information on founders, members of the foundation  council and beneficiaries. Further, this Agreement does not create  an obligation on the Contracting Parties to obtain or provide ownership  information with respect to publicly traded companies or public  collective investment funds or schemes unless such information can  be obtained without giving rise to disproportionate difficulties.

  5. The competent authority of the applicant Party shall provide  the following information in writing to the competent authority  of the requested Party when making a request for information under  the Agreement to demonstrate the foreseeable relevance of the information  to the request:

    1. the identity of the person under examination  or investigation;

    2. a statement of the information sought including its nature  and the form in which the applicant Party wishes to receive the information  from the requested Party;

    3. the period of time with respect to which the information  is requested;

    4. the tax purpose for which the information is sought;

    5. grounds for believing that the information requested is  held in the requested Party or is in the possession or control of  a person within the jurisdiction of the requested Party;

    6. to the extent known, the name and address of any person  believed to be in possession of the requested information;

    7. a statement that the request is in conformity with the law  and administrative practices of the applicant Party, that if the  requested information was within the jurisdiction of the applicant  Party then the competent authority of the applicant Party would  be able to obtain the information under the laws of the applicant  Party or in the normal course of administrative practice and that  it is in conformity with this Agreement;

    8. a statement that the applicant Party has pursued all means  available in its own territory to obtain the information, except  those that would give rise to disproportionate difficulties.

  6. The competent authority of the requested Party shall forward  the requested information as promptly as possible to the applicant  Party. To ensure a prompt response, the competent authority of the  requested Party shall:

    1. Confirm receipt of a request in writing  to the competent authority of the applicant Party and shall notify  the competent authority of the applicant Party of deficiencies in the  request, if any, within 60 days of the receipt of the request.

    2. If the competent authority of the requested Party has been  unable to obtain and provide the information within 90 days of receipt  of the request, including if it encounters obstacles in furnishing  the information or it refuses to furnish the information, it shall immediately  inform the applicant Party, explaining the reason for its inability,  the nature of the obstacles or the reasons for its refusal.

Article 6

Tax Examinations Abroad

  1. A Contracting Party may allow representatives of  the competent authority of the other Contracting Party to enter  the territory of the first-mentioned Party to interview individuals  and examine records with the written consent of the persons concerned.  The competent authority of the second-mentioned Party shall notify the  competent authority of the first-mentioned Party of the time and  place of the meeting with the individuals concerned.

  2. At the request of the competent authority of one Contracting  Party, thecompetent authority of the other Contracting Party may  allow representatives of the competent authority of the first-mentioned  Party to be present at the appropriate part of a tax examination  in the second-mentioned Party.

  3. If the request referred to in paragraph 2 is acceded to,  the competent authority of the Contracting Party conducting the  examination shall, as soon as possible, notify the competent authority  of the other Party about the time and place of the examination,  the authority or official designated to carry out the examination and  the procedures and conditions required by the first-mentioned Party  for the conduct of the examination. All decisions with respect to  the conduct of the tax examination shall be made by the Party conducting  the examination.

Article 7

Possibility of Declining a Request

  1. The requested Party shall not be required  to obtain or provide information that the applicant Party would  not be able to obtain under its own laws for purposes of the administration  or enforcement of its own tax laws, or in response to a valid request  from the requested Party under this Agreement. The competent authority  of the requested Party may decline to assist where the request is  not made in conformity with this Agreement.

  2. The provisions of this Agreement shall not impose on a Contracting  Party the obligation to supply information which would disclose  any trade, business, industrial, commercial or professional secret  or trade process. Notwithstanding the foregoing, information of  the type referred to in Article 5, paragraph 4 shall not be treated  as such a secret or trade process merely because it meets the criteria  in that paragraph.

  3. The provisions of this Agreement shall not impose on a Contracting  Party the obligation to obtain or provide information that would  reveal confidential communications between a client and an attorney,  solicitor or similar legal representative (hereinafter «professional  legal adviser») where such communications:

    1. are between a professional legal adviser  and a client produced for the purposes of the provision of legal  advice to the client; or

    2. are between:

      1. a professional legal adviser and a client;

      2. a professional legal adviser acting for the client and another  person; or

      3. the client and another person instructed by a professional  legal adviser produced for the purposes of existing or contemplated  legal proceedings.

    Nothing in this Agreement shall protect from disclosure:

    1. anything done or any communication  made in furtherance of any illegal or wrongful purpose; or

    2. any fact observed by a professional legal advisor in the  course of his employment as such, showing that any crime or fraud  had been committed since the commencement of his employment.

  4. The requested Party may decline a request for information  if the disclosure of the information would be contrary to public  policy (ordre public).

  5. A request for information shall not be refused on the ground  that the tax claim giving rise to the request is disputed.

  6. The requested Party may decline a request for information  if the information is requested by the applicant Party to administer  or enforce a provision of the tax law of the applicant Party, or  any requirement connected therewith, which discriminates against  a national of the requested Party as compared with a national of the  applicant Party in the same circumstances.

Article 8

Confidentiality

Any information received by a Contracting Party under this Agreement  shall be treated as confidential in the same manner as information  obtained under the domestic laws of that Party and may be disclosed  only to persons or authorities (including courts and administrative  bodies) in the jurisdiction of the Contracting Party concerned with  the assessment or collection of, the enforcement or prosecution  in respect of, or the determination of appeals in relation to, the  taxes covered by this agreement. Such persons or authorities shall  use such information only for such purposes. They may disclose the  information in public court proceedings or in judicial decisions.  The information may not be disclosed to any other person or entity or  authority or any other jurisdiction (including a foreign Government)  without the express written consent of the competent authority of  the requested Party.

Article 9

Costs

Incidence of costs incurred in providing assistance shall be  agreed by the Contracting Parties.

Article 10

Implementation Legislation

The Contracting Parties shall enact any legislation necessary  to comply with, and give effect to, the terms of the Agreement.

Article 11

Mutual Agreement Procedure

  1. Where difficulties or doubts arise between  the Contracting Parties regarding the implementation or interpretation  of the Agreement, the competent authorities shall endeavour to resolve  the matter by mutual agreement.

  2. In addition to the agreements referred to in paragraph 1,  the competent authorities of the Contracting Parties may mutually  agree on the procedures to be used under Articles 5 and 6.

  3. The competent authorities of the Contracting Parties may  communicate with each other directly for purposes of reaching agreement under  this Article.

Article 12

Language

Requests for assistance and responses thereto shall be in English.

Article 13

Entry into Force

  1. Each of the Contracting Parties shall  notify the other in writing, through diplomatic channels, of the  completion of the procedures required by its law for the entry into  force of this Agreement.

  2. The Agreement shall enter into force on the thirtieth day  after the receipt of the later of these notifications and shall  thereupon have effect

    1. for criminal tax matters, for all taxable  periods beginning on or after 1 January 2004 or, where there is  no taxable period, for all charges to tax arising on or after 1  January 2004; and

    2. for all other matters covered in Article 1, for taxable  periods beginning on or after the first day of January of the year  next following the date on which the Agreement enters into force,  or where there is no taxable period, for all charges to tax arising  on or after the first day of January of the year next following  the date on which the Agreement enters into force.

Article 14

Termination

  1. This Agreement shall remain in force  until terminated by a Contracting Party. Either Contracting Party  may terminate the Agreement, through diplomatic channels, by giving  written notice of termination to the other Contracting Party. In  such case, the Agreement shall cease to have effect on the first  day of the month following the end of the period of six months after the  date of receipt of notice of termination by the other Contracting  Party.

  2. In the event of termination, both Contracting Parties shall  remain bound by the provisions of Article 8 with respect to any  information obtained under the Agreement.

In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly authorised thereto  have signed the Agreement.

Done at Paris, this 10th day of March 2010, in duplicate in the  English language.

 

For the Kingdom   of Norway For the Commonwealth of The  Bahamas
Tarald O. Brautaset Zhivargo S. Laing
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