Attorney General Carl Bethel implored financial services sector players yesterday to help The Bahamas to remove “any slur or stain against the name of this jurisdiction” by adhering to anti-money laundering / combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime changes that will put this country in the favor of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Bethel said the country has made significant strides to get to a point where the FATF could conduct an on-the-ground visit to vet The Bahamas’ progress with regard to AML/CFT regime improvements.
One of the things the government has been working on is getting a beneficial ownership registry in place, so that international financial watchdogs are satisfied that money is not being hidden by nameless, faceless entities.
“If we are able to get it done and have a functional beneficial ownership registry, among the other things we’ve finalized; if we’re able to show through practice searches that we are getting some kind of information, this will take us very close to the mark,” said Bethel, who was delivering an address at an anti-money laundering seminar.
“And if we get over that line, if that happens, the FATF will say, ‘we think The Bahamas has made sufficient progress for us to come to The Bahamas for an onsite visit’, so that they can see, touch and feel that we do have an effective system.”
Bethel said an electronic filing system came into effect on June 1. The system will help financial institutions to get supplemental information that can assist them in effectively processing and analyzing suspicious transactions.
According to the attorney general, since improving its AML/CFT regime The Bahamas has had a marked increase in the number of money laundering prosecutions initiated. He said one of the next steps is to effectively track compliance.
Bethel explained that if the FATF makes a visit to The Bahamas between October and December, this country could be off its gray list by early 2020.
“Let’s do what we have to do to get out of it,” he said.
“It’s very little, but that very little means a whole lot. Let us put ourselves in the best position to remove any slur or stain against the name of this jurisdiction, this country, its people, its professionals. Let us do what we have always done; compete against the whole world efficiently, effectively and successfully.”
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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