As work continues toward The Bahamas meeting international regulatory standards, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) Tanya McCartney said she believes The Bahamas will remediate all of its outstanding issues to be removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) gray list by spring, when the next peer review is scheduled.
The Bahamas was added to the FATF’s gray list of countries with deficiencies in their anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes in June 2017.
“I know that the attorney general is working very hard to address matters relative to our anti-money laundering regime and remediating deficiencies that were identified by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, so we’ll see legislation we anticipate will come forward as well to continue to make sure that we are in a good standing. I would say by the spring that we would have remediated all issues,” McCartney said.
“We have made tremendous progress, the FATF has 40 recommendations that countries have to adhere to in the fight against identified risk. We are now compliant with 30 out of 40 of those recommendations, which is better than some developed countries and I know that the team and government are working to make sure that we address the issues. They conveyed that we should be in good standing when the reviews come up later this year.”
Last month, after parliamentarians adopted one of three final action points that should see The Bahamas removed from the FATF’s gray list, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said the FATF would agree on a site visit to take place sometime between February and April this year.
McCartney said the first phase was to pass the relevant legislation to ensure The Bahamas was technically effective in addressing its deficiencies. She said now the industry is moving into the next phase of assessing how well those laws have been implemented.
“Industry continues to work with the government to ensure that we do all that we have to do. In mid-December, we held an industry briefing where the government outlined the actual reporting process and the fact that they had implemented a system to make sure that we were going to meet the deadline for reporting on economic substance. And so, we have been working with the government to make sure that the legislation and the regulations are clear, so that our BFSB members understand what their duties are,” she said.
“We’ve also been working with them to make sure that whatever systems we put in place actually gather the information that they need, is user-friendly and that our members understand what is required of them, so this is a work in progress.”
McCartney’s outlook for the financial services sector remains positive, as she said the regulations have presented The Bahamas with unique benefits.
“We have seen a lot of people deciding to follow their money due to political and economic instability in other countries. The Bahamas is ideally located, we say the gateway to the Americas just off the coast of the United States. A safe country, a politically stable country and so people have followed their money and The Bahamas remains an attractive jurisdiction,” she said.
“Having said that, we believe that with all of this regulation, that some opportunities may be created. We talk about economic substance and the fact that companies now have to have more of a presence here if they are incorporated here, that is directors, adequate staff, etc. We believe that we have the expertise and the people who can provide that substance that the law requires.”