Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis lambasted the government last night and asserted that its “incompetence” resulted in The Bahamas being blacklisted by the European Commission.
Addressing party members at a branch meeting, Davis said, “…We have [Prime Minister Dr. Hubert] Minnis and all the others jetting back and forth to Europe.
“Sometimes they take [Minister of Finance Peter] Turnquest. Sometimes they leave him behind, praising themselves for their negotiating skills.”
Davis said for all of the government’s “boasting and bragging”, they failed and now the “country is blacklisted”.
“Our competitors in financial services – the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands and many more – they were not blacklisted,” Davis said.
“But this government screwed up for Bahamians. That one is filed under incompetence, and it’s a major blow for our country.”
Last week, The Bahamas was blacklisted by the commission due to “strategic deficiencies” in its anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CFT) legislation.
The commission said it conducted an in-depth analysis that “assessed the level of existing threat, the legal framework and controls put in place to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing risks and their effective implementation, and that it also considered the work of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in determining the list.”
In January, Minnis traveled to Brussels to meet with high-ranking officials of the European Commission.
In February, Attorney General Carl Bethel also traveled to Brussels in an attempt to prevent the blacklisting.
The European Commission’s statement said, “Banks and other entities covered by EU anti-money laundering rules will be required to apply increased checks (due diligence) on financial operations involving customers and financial institutions from these high-risk third countries to better identify any suspicious money flows.”
The blacklisting not only poses potential harm to The Bahamas and its financial services industry through reputational damage, but it also stands to complicate financial relations with the European Union (EU), as European banks would be required to perform additional due diligence on financial operations involving entities from The Bahamas.
The U.S. Treasury recently issued a statement criticizing the methodology used by the European Commission after four U.S. territories were included on the list.
It said it does not expect U.S. financial institutions “to take the European Commission’s list into account in their AML/CFT policies and procedures”.
On Friday, Bethel said the commission’s decision was “unwarranted, prejudiced and indefensible”.
“The government is pushing back, and we are seeking to do all we can to marshal international support against this botched, non-transparent, pre-judged, prejudicial and unjustifiable listing,” he said.
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