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Legislation passed to further strengthen AML/CFT regime

Amendments to Proceeds of Crime Act, Anti-Terrorism Act and Register of Beneficial Ownership Act

Senators yesterday passed a compendium of financial services bills expected to further modernize this jurisdiction’s international regulatory obligations regarding anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) rules.

A bill to amend the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), a bill to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act, to empower the Financial Intelligence Unit to impose an administrative penalty on any financial institution that contravenes any provision thereof; and a bill to amend the Register of Beneficial Ownership Act (ROBOA), 2018 were all necessary, Attorney General Ryan Pinder said, to ensure compliance with ever-changing global standards.

In particular, the amendment to the Proceeds of Crime Act would empower the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to impose an administrative penalty on any financial institution that contravenes the act.

“Members may note that this section calls for financial institutions to report any property used for the commission of offenses under the act. In the original legislation, no criminal nor administrative penalty was assigned to this requirement. The amendment will assist the FIU in enforcing compliance with the provisions,” Pinder said in the Senate yesterday.

Speaking to the POCA, which was one of three pieces of primary legislation passed in 2018 to bolster the country’s anti money laundering regime, Pinder said, “In a review of POCA, it was found that a few provisions needed to be amended as follows: Clause 2 of the bill deletes the term ‘nominated officer’ and its definition and substitutes the terms ‘money laundering reporting officer’ or ‘MLRO’ and the definition, as it is a money laundering reporting officer that is relevant in our jurisdiction.

“Clause 3 of the bill makes an amendment to better align with international anti-money laundering standards. Clause 4 of the bill provides that any document obtained under a production order is admissible in court.”

And regarding the ROBOA, Pinder said the amendments will assist in tightening the provisions and reflect requirements to further comply with international best practices regarding transparency of beneficial information of companies and other legal entities registered and incorporated in our country.

“Clause 2 of the bill defines law enforcement authority and supervisory authority, as this was not included in the original legislation. Clause 3 of the bill imposes a duty on legal entities and registered agents to ensure that the information provided or recorded in the bill is accurate,” he said.

“Clause 4 of the bill provides for the addition of the Gaming Board and the Ministry of Finance to request a search of the secure search system. Requests for searches by the Ministry of Finance must only be made in carrying out its duties under the International Tax Cooperation Act and the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Act and are not permitted to undertake fishing expeditions. Clause 5 of the bill seeks to correct an error in the original legislation. Clause 6 of the bill provides for an administrative penalty regime, bolstering enforcement tools, to deter non-compliance.”

All of the bills are expected to meet compliance standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The group of bills was supposed to include a bill to a mend the Financial Transactions Reporting Act, however that bill was not passed from the House of Assembly.

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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