Just as the government and the financial services sector make strides in becoming compliant with the standards of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), those standards change, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest lamented yesterday at the Financial Intelligence Unit’s (FIU) Public-Private Partnerships forum.
Turnquest explained to the forum attendees that The Bahamas has had its compliance rating upgraded, but it has fallen down in a few areas where the country did not “achieve the requisite standards”.
But those standards, he complained, have continually been changed as the country comes into compliance.
“The Bahamas has made significant strides in improving its legislation and systems, particularly in the last three years, but it appears that as soon as we get closer to meeting the standards, the requirements change,” Turnquest said.
“As I alluded to earlier, the perception is that the goal posts are often moving. However, The Bahamas is staying engaged at a high level with our international partners to keep pace with the changes and to shape the future direction that we collectively move towards.
“Since the release of the MER (Mutual Evaluation Report), and our being placed in the ICRG (International Cooperation Review Group) process, The Bahamas has successfully had our compliance rating upgraded for a number of the recommendations and immediate outcomes. But there is still more work to be done. We are optimistic that in short order we will meet the requirements of those few remaining areas where we did not achieve the requisite standards. Our aim is to, at the earliest opportunity, be released from the ICRG process.”
Turnquest praised the creation of the forum for the work and ideas it could spawn, especially given that one of its key speakers yesterday was Senior Policy Advisor for International Relations in the Office of the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Bess Johnson Michael.
“Ms. Michael has an impressive resume which outlines her vast experience in addressing legal, policy and operational issues involving anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism. Her presence here this morning will no doubt add value to the discussions, and help us as we seek to further strength our partnerships,” Turnquest said.
He contended that the government of The Bahamas continues to support “the adherence to global standards that are applicable to all financial sectors around the world”, and that the government will remain “relentless” in its efforts to protect the financial services sector.
“The entire global system is better protected and safeguarded when we all maintain a firm commitment to high AML/CFT standards,” he said.