Real estate sector ensuring it’s less exposed to financial crime risks
As The Bahamas firms up its reputation as one of the world’s exemplars in anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CTF), a top-producing real estate professional said the industry is ensuring it is not vulnerable to financial crime risks.
Luxury Specialist for H.G. Christie Ryan Knowles said particularly for international investors, greater attention has been paid to know your client (KYC) requirements to ensure that, at every level within the finance industry, there is compliance.
“I don’t know if has changed the way purchasers are buying, but it’s changed a bit of the way that we do business as far as the level of KYC that we now have to do on clients. It used to be that if you wanted to buy a property and you had the money in the bank, that was all we needed to know. But now you know we need information,” he said in an interview with Guardian Business yesterday.
“And I think it’s something that’s new, but it’s a good thing overall. I think it speaks to The Bahamas wanting to be a destination where everything is above board; there’s nothing nefarious going on and it’s a stable place for people to invest their money.”
Knowles said because of these new and more stringent regulations on the financial sector, investors can have a sense of confidence in what The Bahamas is doing regarding compliance, KYC and ensuring all the funds being used to purchase real estate are legitimate.
This is especially important, given the uptick in interest in the Bahamian luxury market from international investors, Knowles pointed out.
“I would say there’s an uptick, it seems to be robust, especially from the new developments that are coming on the market. There’s a lot of excitement and interest from international purchasers and also some domestic purchasers who are looking for solid investment opportunities,” he said.
“What’s happening now is that there’s a lot more variety in the market than there used to be. You have developments like The Pointe; you have Goldwyn that’s taking place on Goodman’s Bay; you have Thirty Six on Paradise Island; One Cable Beach and then you have the big one, which is Hurricane Hole, which is coming on the market in a couple of months on Paradise Island.
“I think what you’re seeing is a general kind of uptick in construction and activity, and it’s being matched by quite a lot of sales.”
The real estate sector has been targeted as an avenue for persons seeking to launder the proceeds of crime.
In recent years the government and The Central Bank of The Bahamas have placed greater emphasis on implementing regulations to close loopholes.