Attorney General Ryan Pinder said he is cautiously optimistic about The Bahamas’ re-rating at the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force’s (CFATF) plenary meeting in November, which if successful would make this jurisdiction compliant with all 40 of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) recommendations.
“Right now we’re getting ready for the Council of Ministers which is next month, the plenary which is in November, so we’re always on point in advancing. We have developed a rule in conjunction with the Securities Commission on Recommendation 16 and how you deal with the travel rule and digital assets. That should be finalized any day now. We have a few comments coming in, but separate and apart from that, that will demonstrate that we continue to evolve our AML structure to reflect the industries that we participate in. we have made a policy decision to participate in digital asset industry in a measured way, well we need to keep our AML framework in line with that, so I think that is positive,” he said at a recent event held by the Association of International Banks and Trust Companies.
“I am cautiously optimistic on re-rating in the November plenary, which will put us 40 for 40 on the recommendations. I think only one other jurisdiction in the hemisphere meets that, so that is very good. And I think when you look internationally, the view of The Bahamas in AML now is rather positive. I think that generally the global marketplace and the global regulators have a view that we are working hard to remain as compliant as possible, and even when we venture into new opportunities we keep our AML framework up to date.”
But as The Bahamas seeks to end its journey to full compliance under the FATF framework, Pinder said it is now having to keep up with whatever obligations would fall under the European Union’s new AML framework.
Last year the EU presented legislation to harmonize AML/CFT rules across the EU and proposed the creation of its own authority to fight money laundering. It released rules to that effect earlier this year.
While expressing confidence that this jurisdiction will keep pace with international obligations, he said it may soon be time for one government department to oversee these activities.
“It is certainly something that we have to keep up with and keep aligned on. I think we are leaders in the AML space and we’re cognizant of our obligations, so does their pronouncement scare me? It doesn’t, I think that it just means more work. Anybody looking for a job the Office of the Attorney General is hiring and I think that’s part of the challenge with countries with limited capacity, keeping up with the different international regulatory institutions is a necessity,” he said.
“I think what you’re going to see in the short term is, we have a government framework on these international obligations that is a bit segregated. So you see OECD matters for example are in Finance, AML matters are in OAG, certain things are in Inland Revenue, certain things we give to the regulators to do, and I think you will have to see those silos come together. And that doesn’t mean taking one thing out of the Ministry of Finance and sticking it in the Office of the Attorney General, but I think it has to be a much more cohesive working relationship and approach within government to be able to timely react to these types of things and not be viewed as dragging your feet that sometimes we may be because of our own government setup.”