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Rolle: Bahamas has proven itself to be a strong AML/CFT jurisdiction

The Bahamas is “definitely” out of the money hiding business, Governor of the Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) John Rolle said yesterday, adding, though, that this country still has to continually prove itself to international financial watchdogs in order to maintain a favorable reputation as an international financial center.

Rolle, who was speaking during CBOB’s 6th Annual Information Security Awareness Week conference, said many other international financial centers cannot make the claim that they are no longer the tax havens of old, which are rapidly being dismantled by bodies like the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Rolle warned: “The world’s dirty money managers should be on notice that they should take their business elsewhere.”

According to the governor, The Bahamas has proven itself to be a jurisdiction mostly devoid of money laundering or terrorist financing threats.

However, the country has been cited by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for not doing enough to put in place a robust anti-money laundering / combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.

Rolle said given the strides this country has made to rid itself of the tax haven title, the EU, OECD, FATF and correspondent banks need to be encouraged “to give us fair credit for our actual position” on AML/CFT.

“Life isn’t fair when you’re a small country daring to compete in international financial services,” he said.

“On the reputation front, which is important, we’re dealing with an essential and possibly existential global fallacy. The fallacy is that in the field of dirty money, small countries with large international financial centers are a problem.”

Rolle explained that while it is true that jurisdictions have been part of the problem in the past, massive reforms have corrected the deficiencies that landed The Bahamas on black and gray lists. He added that while this jurisdiction has corrected many of the problems that led to being placed on lists, it is obvious that large countries cannot get a handle on the dirty money that has found its way into international financial centers.

“The world’s large countries are both the sources and destinations for a great bulk of the world’s dirty money,” Rolle said.

According to Rolle, there is no evidence that the domestic banking industry or that industry’s clients are facilitating material money laundering, and only three sectors were identified as being serious risks: real estate, where there is a large overlap with the international sector; gaming; and the money transfer businesses.

He added that the gaming sector has been found to be compliant and highly regulated, as is the money transfer business, noting that the real estate sector is currently being brought up to a standard that will make the AML/CFT concern negligible.

“I’m hopeful that in three years The Bahamas can demonstrate that we have a world-leading and data-driven approach to preventing real estate-based money laundering,” Rolle said.

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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