Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday that Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis’ claim that the Minnis administration’s “incompetence” led to The Bahamas’ recent blacklisting is “absolutely baseless”.
“If we want to talk about incompetence, look at the record between 2015 and 2017, before we came to office, and you will see the epitome of incompetence,” Bethel said outside Cabinet.
He added: “When we came to office, we met a state of utter neglect by the former government of this vital aspect of our governance.
“They failed to do anything of substance between 2015 and 2017. That is why The Bahamas got placed onto the [Financial Action Task Force] FATF action plan — because of the neglect of the PLP. And if they really want to have a debate about it, it won’t go well for them, because the facts are the facts.”
Last week The Bahamas was blacklisted by the European Commission due to “strategic deficiencies” in its anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) legislation.
During a PLP branch meeting on Monday night, Davis said, “But this government screwed up for Bahamians. That one is filed under incompetence, and it’s a major blow for our country.”
Davis said for all of the government’s “boasting and bragging”, they failed, and now the “country is blacklisted”.
But Bethel said, “We’re trying to have a mature approach to this, a national approach to this.
“We don’t want to get into name-calling, finger-pointing or anything like that. But for the opposition to spew falsehoods against the prime minister and against this government is simply something that will not be tolerated.
“We will answer with the truth, and the truth is that between 2015 and 2017, little or nothing was done to address what they knew were the concerns of, first of all, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and the Financial Action Task Force in Europe.”
The European 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 in determining the list”.
Bethel said the government is working on a strategy to reverse the blacklisting.
He said the government will engage in “the necessary consultations to see what we can do about this listing”.
When asked if he was confident that the listing would be reversed, the attorney general said, “I can’t be confident of how other intelligent human beings in another country, who feel they have other responsibilities that I don’t have, will react.”
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice