The resurgence of COVID-19 in The Bahamas and other countries has caused a further delay in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) regional assessment government hoped would have taken place last month.
Attorney General Carl Bethel told Guardian Business yesterday that given numbers of COVID-19 cases The Bahamas has
recorded over the past month, it is no surprise that the country’s hosting of the FATF visit for the region would be delayed.
“It’s understandable,” Bethel said. “Both Europe and The Bahamas are struggling to cope with this resurgence of the virus and this poses travel difficulties on both sides.”
While Bethel could not say how the FATF and European Union (EU) are treating the further delays, he contended they are assisting The Bahamas in completing an important review that could pave the way for The Bahamas’ removal from the EU’s blacklist.
“It is what it is,” said Bethel. “We are seeking to meet their timelines and they are seeking to assist us. We will undoubtedly get it all done at some point.”
Bethel told this paper in July that The Bahamas had agreed in principle to host the meeting of the FATF review groups and other countries from the region in need of assessment, but did insist that the meeting depended on the health, safety and travel protocols of each country.
Bethel said there are several countries in the region in need of assessment by the FATF.
In May, while in the thick of the COVID-19 lockdown, the European Commission (EC), an arm of the EU, placed The Bahamas on its blacklist of countries it states have strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes.
The blacklist also included Barbados, Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar/Burma, Nicaragua, Panama and Zimbabwe.
A delegation from the EU was expected to attend the postponed review.
Bethel said the government had hoped to have the review done by the end of July.