Despite threats, still a future for financial services sector, says financial investigator
There is still very much a future for The Bahamas’ financial services sector as high-net-worth individuals, often under some threat in their own countries, seek out international financial centers like The Bahamas, head of an international investigative firm L. Burke Files told Guardian Business on Friday.
Files, who was the lead presenter at an advanced anti-money laundering seminar last month, said as long as there are “dodgy” leaders, countries led by despots and socialist countries, high-net-worth individuals will have a reason to seek out international financial centers to keep their wealth safe.
According to Files, many wealthy individuals have left their home countries and taken their wealth with them for these reasons, while others have had to create funds in international financial centers to protect their wealth and prevent instances of kidnapping in their own countries.
But while these kinds of services remain important for these kinds of individuals, The Bahamas has come under greater and greater scrutiny from global financial watchdogs such as the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Files said The Bahamas has to keep current with the demands of these organizations to prevent being ostracized through blacklisting, by improving education; increasing the number of inspections that are done on financial institutions; and getting veterans of the financial services sector to assist the country in keeping abreast of new developments and best practices, and to assist in investigations.
He said in order to satisfy organizations such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), many more inspections need to be done.
“You guys have got more than enough talent when it comes to law and accounting there,” said Files.
“You need someone who has been in the trenches… they’re going to see what you don’t see.
“You need someone with that back office experience in the trenches to really focus that effort there.”
Files said this country also has to keep a keen eye on instances of corruption and seek to pay those people and entities charged with investigating corruption well enough that they will not succumb to corruption themselves.
“Be very aware of corruption,” he said.
“The criminal sector can pay more and as soon as you take that first dollar from them, you’re done.
“I would pay the investigators and the attorneys very well so there is not even a chance.”
The seminar at which Files was a speaker was put on by Preventative Measures, an asset protection and loss prevention management firm, and covered a plethora of financial services-based topics, including new practices in money laundering, anti-money laundering policy and capital flight.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism