In a letter to Sven Giegold, a German member of the European Parliament, Attorney General Carl Bethel dismissed recent comments about The Bahamas’ progress on money laundering convictions.
Giegold described The Bahamas as “a stubborn case” that must carry out money laundering convictions in order to be removed from the European Commission’s blacklist.
Bethel first responded to the comments last week in the Senate, where he said that Giegold was ignorant of progress made in The Bahamas, and indicated his intention to write a letter to Giegold in light of his comments.
In his letter, dated March 8, Bethel said that Giegold’s criticism was based on dated information.
“Presumably the figures in your possession were derived from the 4th Round 2017 Mutual Evaluation Report of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, which resulted in the referral of The Bahamas to the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) ICRG (International Co-operation Review Group) procedures,” he said.
“That report was based upon an analysis of [anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing] AML/CFT regime then in place in The Bahamas between the years 2011 and 2015, when the assessors visited the country to conduct their review. At that time, it would have been accurate to conclude, based upon the assessors’ findings, that The Bahamas had no money laundering convictions.
“However, since 2015, much has changed, and I am happy to confirm that the 2015 position has been aggressively reversed.”
The Bahamas was blacklisted by the commission on February 13 along with Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Panama, several United States territories and other jurisdictions.
However, the European Union rejected 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”.
Giegold said, “According to the figures I have, there are no convictions on The Bahamas because of money laundering.”
He said the non-convictions were clear evidence that the regime “doesn’t deliver”.
Bethel said, “Subsequent to the release of the 2017 Mutual Evaluation Report, there were 53 money laundering investigations with in excess of 35 persons charged resulting in excess of 20 persons being convicted for the period ending 30th November, 2018.
“In 2016-2017, there was a 46 percent increase in the number of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) and a 69 percent increase in the number of cases sent to the police.
“As a result, the police opened 115 more cases in 2017 than in 2016, representing a 131 percent increase.”
Bethel added, “In terms of international cooperation, The Bahamas is currently assisting global partners, including five OECD members states, in their investigations of 60 plus serious money laundering allegations.”
He said, “A review of the FATF documentation would clearly show that as of February 2019, the FATF acknowledged that The Bahamas has taken steps pursuant to its political commitment towards completion of the FATF Action Plan.”
Bethel said, “We trust that, having updated the information now in your possession, you would be better enabled to accurately state the current position, attitude and achievements of The Bahamas.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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