Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper yesterday called it outrageous that the European Commission is placing The Bahamas on another blacklist amidst the COVID-19 economic and health crisis, but he also questioned if the government has been compliant with commitments to the European Union (EU).
The European Commission indicated on Tuesday that it intended to once again add The Bahamas to a list of countries that pose a significant threat regarding money laundering and terrorism financing to the financial system of the EU.
This comes despite concentrated efforts by the Minnis administration in recent years to enact legislation and regulations as mandated by the international watchdog
“Though there have been various legislative reforms undertaken, institutions continue to shed jobs and leave The Bahamas,” Cooper said in a statement yesterday. “This action threatens our competitiveness compared with our peers. We note the surprise expressed by the attorney general in the face of legislative responses to the Financial Action Task Force and the opening of an embassy in Brussels, in order to address these types of matters diplomatically before they are decided.
“We would like to understand from the government how proactive this embassy has been in communicating with the European Commission. In view of these harsh actions, will the government also confirm whether they have responded to all requests and complied with all previous commitments made to the EU?”
Attorney General Carl Bethel said on Tuesday that The Bahamas had not received any advance notification or warning at any diplomatic level regarding the blacklisting, despite a public commitment made by the European Commission to engage in discussions with potentially affected countries prior to placing them on a blacklist.
Cooper said the PLP stands ready to assist the government in the ever-changing landscape of compliance, but he urged the government to collaborate with counterparts in other international financial services jurisdictions and seek assistance from friends in the international community to curb these attacks.
“Continuing to kowtow to governments and international bodies whose only desire is to see us out of the industry is a failed strategy. We must protect what remains of our financial services center and the livelihoods of the middle class,” he said.
“In the face of these threats, we must continue to create innovate products and a clearly defined strategy to maintain the industry.”