Bahamas, Caribbean often seen as soft targets, says crypto investigator
The Bahamas and Caribbean are sometimes seen as soft targets for bad actors, local certified cryptocurrency investigator Gamal Newry explained in a statement to Guardian Business yesterday, adding that the jurisdiction has to remain sensitive to the “changing dynamics of crime”.
Newry said in the statement that only four days before the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, he officially launched tools and services that can be used to police cryptocurrency markets through his company called Preventative Measures.
“Less than four days before the FTX incident broke, On November 3-4, at the Caribbean Regional Compliance Association (CRCA) Conference held at Baha Mar, Preventative Measures introduced to the regional market the ability to provide cryptocurrency investigation tools and support services, which included transaction monitoring and risk rating applications,” Newry said.
“The conference brought together a large cross-section of financial industry crime management professionals. These persons are tasked with managing the risk of money laundering and terrorism financing. We thought the CRCA Conference was the ideal event to announce these new services and products, as many payments for illicit activities are being done via cryptocurrency.”
According to Newry, Preventative Measures has a team of experts on the ground and international partnerships with the Canada-based Blockchain Intelligence Group (BIG) and US-based Financial Examinations and Evaluations (FEE).
Newry said given the new dynamics that come with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, new tools are needed to regulate and monitor transactions, and the right competencies are required to effectively police markets.
“Also, much of the focus is on creating wealth, but with this comes a responsibility on the business and jurisdiction to protect these spheres from internal abuse and external attacks,” the statement said.
Newry stated, “We must remember that as much as The Bahamas and Caribbean wish to remain tranquil and secluded destinations, that is exactly those characteristics that attract malicious actors.
“Too often, our destinations are seen as soft targets because we have limited experience in managing these types of threats. Being open for business means precisely that, not only generating revenue but also having systems in place to protect those gains.”
Newry said businesses cannot hope that cryptocurrencies will fade away, but explained that law firms and accounting firms must develop the skills for compliance and enforcement.
He said his company introduced to the local market NFT Explorer, which tracks and traces ownership and sources of funds for NFTs; Bit Rank, a crypto risk, rating, monitoring and compliance tool; and Qlue, an investigative tool to track and trace suspect cryptocurrency transactions.
“This partnership is more than investigative services and support, but also provides opportunities for training and certification,” he said.
“As stated, there are some deficiencies as it relates to skill sets and as such, the training of staff is critical to the fight. FTX is just the tip of the iceberg, there will be others, and the climate is ripe for it.
“As the FTX incident is dissected, the focus should not be on what was not done, but on what we can do to correct challenges and close gaps.”