Banking regulations in Caribbean nations are more robust than those in countries that are critical of the region's financial sector, Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie said Monday in Nassau.

In an address to open the third Caribbean Conference on the International Financial Services Sector, Christie blasted those who seem to believe that there is "something intrinsically sinister about the accumulation of wealth in offshore jurisdictions."

"We reject that premise and we criticize in the strongest possible terms the efforts of some to maim and cripple, if not destroy, the offshore economies within our region," he said.

"Ironically, the anti-money laundering, anti-terrorism funding and anti-criminal regulatory regimes of many of our countries are far more robust ... than the corresponding regulatory regimes in many of the same countries that are leading the fight against us," the Bahamian leader said.

Offshore financial services can be "responsibly operated and regulated," he insisted.

Destruction of the offshore financial service economies would inevitably destabilize the host countries, Christie said.

"To destroy this sector in the Caribbean would effectively cause tens of thousands of newly empowered middle class citizens to slip back into poverty or migrate," he said.

Christie went on to challenge the United Nations to take the lead in developing multilateral global mechanisms for the governance of offshore financial services that will meet the demands of the developed nations. EFE