The Bahamas is not a jurisdiction considered attractive to even attempt nefarious or suspicious transactions, according to a financial services chief. Nonetheless, the country must demonstrate more effective resolution to suspicious transaction reports (STRs).
Clearing Banks Association Chairman Gowon Bowe said The Bahamas’ ability to provide timely statistical reporting on STRs will prove that this is a low-risk jurisdiction.
“It’s a little bit of trying to prove a negative. We are really a strong environment that you would not expect high volumes of STRs and high volumes of prosecutions, because we’ve set up a system that really prohibits nefarious activity from even entering the banking system,” Bowe said.
“The Bahamas is not a jurisdiction that is attractive to try and even attempt doing those types of laundering activities, because of the scrutiny that is placed by financial institutions on their transactions.”
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest revealed measures being undertaken to beef up the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which has received severe criticism by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on how it receives STRs and efforts to close loopholes with respect to completing investigations, determining their credibility for prosecution and documenting how those cases are handled once closed.
In addition to the appointment of a new FIU director in former Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Quinn McCartney, the ministry has also overhauled the unit’s information technology system and has increased dedicated human resources.
“We certainly have a very robust regime, not only government and the clearing banks, but also the private wealth management entities in the country as well. Our laws are considered to be some of the more progressive laws in terms of responsibilities of institutions, so what you would find yourself having is a situation where we didn’t have empirical evidence to demonstrate to outside observers that indeed because of the robustness of the system, the level of risk has been significantly reduced and the reality is we are a deterrent to those persons who are interested in nefarious activities,” Bowe said.
“The strengthening of the FIU is going to enable the government to clearly demonstrate that these suspicious transactions that have been reported, this the conclusion of those matters, this is the prosecution, these are the freeze orders and these are the actions taken, so that we have a greater picture to demonstrate to the outside world that not just the laws themselves require any further enhancement or practical implementation, but that the evidence supports that the monies that are coming through The Bahamas are clean, they are being appropriately identified by institutions and that the reporting by the institutions is of a robust and comprehensive nature.”
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