The government is hoping for a visit by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) before the end of the year, and is looking for the group to give a nod to the changes made to the country’s anti-money laundering / combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, which was not acceptable to the FATF when it was reviewed back in 2015, Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday as he made his contribution to the 2019/2020 budget in the Senate yesterday.
Bethel said he hopes the changes that have been made will mean The Bahamas is taken off the gray list of countries with deficiencies in their AML/CFT regimes.
“Last week I attended the plenary meeting of the FATF in Orlando, Florida,” Bethel said.
“At that meeting it was noted that The Bahamas continues to make good and significant progress towards completing the Action Plan, which will end in September of this year, 2019. The Action Plan was imposed as a consequence of the negative evaluation of the AML/CFT regime in May of 2017, a short two weeks after we assumed office – the actual evaluation having been conducted in 2015.
“There are still some minor legislative changes that are required, among them the passage and enactment of the Non-Profit Bill, which we hope to fully complete by the end of July or early August of this year.”
Bethel said the FATF’s latest statement on The Bahamas’ progress notes that the country has implemented the Beneficial Ownership Law, and brought the Anti-Terrorism Regulations into force, but should continue to work on addressing strategic deficiencies.
Those deficiencies included “completing the comprehensive electronic case management system for international cooperation; demonstrating risk-based supervision of non-bank financial institutions; completing the process to ensure the timely access to adequate, accurate and current basic and beneficial ownership information; increasing the quality of the FIU’s (Financial Intelligence Unit’s) products to assist LEAs (law enforcement agencies) in the pursuance of ML/TF (money laundering / financing of terrorism) investigations, specifically complex ML/TF and stand-alone ML investigations; demonstrating that authorities are investigating and prosecuting all types of money laundering, including complex ML cases, stand-alone money laundering, and cases involving proceeds of foreign offenses; increasing the identification, tracing and freezing or restraining of assets and to present cases linked with foreign offenses and standalone ML cases; and addressing remaining gaps in the TF and PF (financial of proliferation) TFS (targeted financial sanctions) frameworks and demonstrating implementation”.
Bethel said most of the items cited by the FATF have either been completed, “or are being implemented on a day-to-day basis”.
According to Bethel, there has been a marked increase in the number of money laundering prosecutions in the last two years.
“The FIU has also acquired new software, e-filing, analytical software and communications mechanisms that will allow for direct communication within law enforcement agencies, financial institutions and banks and other FIUs,” he said.
“We are now able to track and produce reports on most international cooperation cases, MLAT (mutual legal assistance treaty) requests, letters rogatory, and Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act requests. We are having the software system upgraded so that extradition cases can also be similarly tracked and reported.”
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism