The following is a press release issued by the Cabinet Office on July 13, in respect of latest developments and actions currently being taken in response to the “blacklisting” of The Bahamas by the FATF, and to the FinCen Advisory issued that week by the United States Treasury Department:

The Cabinet Office today announced that following upon the “black listing” of The Bahamas by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as one of 15 countries deemed to be non-cooperating in the fight against money laundering, the United States of America issued an advisory to its financial institutions. This advisory requires that enhanced scrutiny be given to suspicious transactions emanating from financial institutions in The Bahamas. The Government of The Bahamas regards the black listing of The Bahamas by the FATF and the issuance of the advisory by the United States as serious and harmful to our status as a Financial Centre.

The FATF, created at the 1989 G-7 Economic Summit of major industrialized nations, is a 29-member international group that works to combat money laundering.

Other countries and territories included on the FATF “black list” include Cayman Islands, Israel, Liechtenstein, Panama and Philippines.

The Bahamas is resolute and determined in its stance against money laundering, drug trafficking, corruption, and criminality in all its forms. Deficiencies identified in the FATF Report on The Bahamas relate to weaknesses in the regulatory supervision of financial institutions and non-financial institutions such as legal and accounting firms and management companies, to delays in the processing of applications under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties and in judicial proceedings, and to inadequacy of technical and human resources in the regulation and supervision of financial services.

The Bahamas is working diligently to correct all identified deficiencies. The passage by Parliament of the Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act, 2000 and its entry into force on the 26 June, 2000, was a first step in The Bahamas’ comprehensive response to remedy identified deficiencies. Parliament has also adopted an amendment to the Money Laundering (Proceeds of Crime) Act strengthening the requirement for the reporting by financial institutions and others of suspicious transactions to include the necessary reporting of unusual transactions. As previously announced by the Prime Minister, a number of other legislative initiatives designed to address identified deficiencies in The Bahamas’ legislation and anti-money laundering system will be introduced in the House of Assembly next month and adopted prior to the Summer Recess.

The Government of The Bahamas is taking urgent steps toward having The Bahamas’ name removed from the FATF “black list” and the US advisory and is currently consulting widely to determine the most appropriate course of action to achieve that end. This process includes discussions and consultations with the various international fora including the OECD and FATF, financial institutions, lawyers and accountants in The Bahamas, with legal authorities, both nationally and internationally, and with the Leader of the Opposition and Members of Parliament.

The Minister of Finance, who is presently in London, met today with the UK Representative on the OECD in what was described by the Minister of Finance as “an extremely useful discussion”. The Minister of Finance meets tomorrow with the UK Representative on the FATF.

Plans are also underway for high level meetings between Bahamian Government Representatives and US Government Representatives concerned with OECD and FATF matters.

In the interest of remedying, without delay, deficiencies in The Bahamas’ anti-money laundering system identified in the FATF Report and the US financial advisory and with a view to The Bahamas’ compliance with the identified international standards and, hence its consequent removal from the FATF black list and the US advisory, the Government has been pleased to accept a generous offer of technical assistance from the United States Treasury Department.