Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday committed to beefing up the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in light of The Bahamas being added to a list of jurisdictions considered to have deficiencies that pose a risk to the international financial system.
Last week, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) listed The Bahamas as one of 11 jurisdictions that have made high-level political commitments to develop action plans that address their specific deficiencies.
“The FATF made a report that pointed out some deficiencies that we need to strengthen, particularly with respect to the Financial Intelligence Unit. [That] not only do we receive the suspicious transaction reports, but also that we close the loops with respect to completing the investigations, and either taking those that are credible to prosecution or otherwise exposing and documenting how we dispose of those cases,” Turnquest told reporters outside the Churchill building Tuesday.
In response, Turnquest said government is in the process of strengthening the FIU, by giving it the resources needed to conduct proper investigations and recommend prosecution in cases where warranted.
“We will ensure that they receive the additional training that they need, and we’re looking at potentially strengthening the unit structurally to bring into the FIU itself the investigative resources that it needs in order to ensure that it controls the investigation process and is able to produce the kind of documentation and reports that [are] necessary; and to recommend prosecution where there is a need for prosecution,” he said.
The FATF reviewed The Bahamas’ compliance with its anti-money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) standards as a part of its ongoing assessment of member jurisdictions.
Although he said he believes The Bahamas is being singled out, Turnquest said government understands the challenges of the financial services sector.
“We are certainly not comfortable being on the list with some of these other countries that have been included on the same list when we know that our system is nowhere near comparable to these states,” Turnquest said.
“So, we will continue to do what we have to do to strengthen our enforcement mechanisms and ensure that we continue to demonstrate to the world that this is a well-regulated jurisdiction and that we are practicing global best practices here in The Bahamas.”
The Bahamas is listed along with Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Pakistan, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen.
The FATF said a number of jurisdictions have not yet been reviewed by the FATF and that it continues to identify additional jurisdictions, on an ongoing basis, that pose a risk to the international financial system.
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