AG: Member of European Parliament made utterly ignorant claims
Attorney General Carl Bethel yesterday lambasted a member of the European Parliament as “utterly ignorant” in his reported claims that The Bahamas is not doing anything to address money laundering.
“We understand that there was a comment by a member of the European Parliament,” said Bethel in the Senate.
“He’s a member of the European Parliament and therefore would reflect a more political and less well-informed point of view.
“It is clear that the commentator was utterly ignorant of not only the changes that we have made but also of the fact that there have been money laundering convictions ever since the first Proceeds of Crime Act was passed in 1996 in The Bahamas and for someone to state that The Bahamas does not prosecute money laundering is the height of ignorance.”
The attorney general’s comments were in response to comments made by Sven Giegold, a German member of the European Parliament, earlier this week.
In an editorial published in The Bahama Journal on Wednesday, Giegold described The Bahamas as “a stubborn case” that needs to carry out money laundering convictions in order to be removed from the European Commission’s blacklist.
“According to the figures I have, there are no convictions on The Bahamas because of money laundering,” Giegold said.
“If in certain jurisdictions, although it has a larger financial place, a larger financial center, nobody is convicted, that is a clear sign that your regime doesn’t deliver.”
The Bahamas was blacklisted by the commission on February 13 along with Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Panama, several United States territories and other jurisdictions.
The European Union released a statement rejecting the commission’s blacklist because it “was not established in a transparent and resilient process that actively incentivizes affected countries to take decisive action while also respecting their right to be heard”.
Addressing the Senate, Bethel said there has been an increase in money laundering charges and convictions since last year.
“So, of 40 offenses charged last year, 19 have resulted in conviction and forfeiture of millions of dollars that sit in the Confiscated Asset Fund today as I speak,” he said.
The attorney general said roughly $2.7 million in “dirty money” has been confiscated by the government in the last year and a half.
Bethel said he intends to write a letter to Giegold in light of his comments.
“Let me say that I am in the process of drafting a response that will be sent to this member of the European Parliament and I won’t sign the letter,” he said.
“The permanent secretary will sign that letter there but he will be thoroughly disabused of his ignorance.
“This is The Bahamas. We don’t play fool. When we set our minds to perform a task, we do it. We are Bahamians. We’re no slackers and we don’t play fool. When we set our minds to a job, let me say it again, we perform and we do what we have to do.”
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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