Bethel explains Bahamas not blacklisted, but placed on ‘implementation’ list
Attorney General Carl Bethel insisted yesterday that The Bahamas has not been “blacklisted”, but merely placed on an “implementation” list to carry out an action mandated by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Bethel explained it is because of this implementation list penned by the FATF and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), that The Bahamas and other countries were placed by the European Commission on a list with countries that have “weak anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regimes”.
Therefore, he said, The Bahamas is now simply on a list of countries that need to implement legislative changes as required by the European Commission, and as has been suggested by the FATF and the OECD.
Bethel also explained that this most recent listing of The Bahamas by the European Commission has nothing to do with its progress in the area of base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) required by the European Union (EU).
“With BEPS they are assessing our legislation, they are aware of the amendments, they agree to them, and once we get those passed and brought into law, there is every likelihood we will be put on the white list – not blacklisted at all,” said Bethel.
He stressed that this most recent list is a separate issue from BEPS.
With regard to the most recent list by the European Commission, Bethel said The Bahamas was only notified of the commission’s concerns on January 21. After being made aware of the impending listing, Bethel took a trip to Brussels, Belgium, to meet with the commission, but The Bahamas was listed anyway.
“This thing came up on the 21st of January out of nowhere,” he said.
The United States Department of the Treasury took a strong stance against the European Commission’s list, calling it “flawed”, especially because three U.S. territories were named.
The treasury department said it does not expect American financial institutions to pay heed to the list, or take into account the European Commission’s AML/CFT policies and procedures, despite this measure taken by the EU.
The U.S., in a press statement condemning the EU’s methods for developing the list, explained its reasons for considering the EU’s process list flawed: “The Financial Action Task Force is the global standard-setting body for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing. The FATF, which includes the United States, the European Commission, 15 EU member states and 20 other jurisdictions, already develops a list of high-risk jurisdictions with AML/CFT deficiencies as part of a careful and comprehensive process.
“Because of the FATF’s work, virtually all countries around the world are subject to a rigorous peer-review methodology that examines the legal frameworks to counter illicit finance, as well as how effectively jurisdictions implement them. These reviews are an intensive process involving careful review of the legal framework, extensive fact gathering, and on-site visits in which assessors engage in robust, iterative dialogues with assessed jurisdictions.
“The European Commission’s process for developing its list contrasts starkly with FATF’s thorough methodology.”
The 23 listed jurisdictions are Afghanistan, American Samoa, The Bahamas, Botswana, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guam, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Yemen.
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