The Bahamas: Enhancing Its Image As A Premier International Financial Centre – Working Internationally and Internally

The Government of The Bahamas remains firmly focussed on putting in place the necessary legislative, regulatory and administrative arrangements enabling compliance with new and evolving international standards and practices. This message was reaffirmed by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham in a report from Europe that The Bahamas is “on course” for removal from the FATF’s international money laundering blacklist.

The FATF announced earlier that a decision would be made early next year as to whether The Bahamas — along with several other countries — would be removed from the blacklist following a series of concrete measures taken by each to address specific concerns identified by the international organisation.

BFSB Chairman Ian Fair has indicated that industry leaders remain optimistic that the Bahamas will “exit” the list once all new legislative initiatives are implemented. Particularly, the early establishment of the Financial Intelligence Unit intended to monitor and investigate suspicious financial activity is viewed as a first step in securing the FATF’s recognition that The Bahamas operates under the best international standards and practices. In the meantime, The Bahamas will continue to focus on its own initiatives to ensure that the country sustains and enhances its position as a competitive and successful international financial centre.

The Government also has announced a series of legislative measures targetted to address concerns of the Financial Stability Forum, measures which it feels will reduce “opportunities for anonymous use and/or abuse of Bahamian companies for unauthorised purposes — either within the Bahamas or internationally”.

The Central Bank of The Bahamas has retained an international banking supervision expert to assist in the restructuring of its regulatory function and is recruiting additional supervisory staff internationally. Additionally, the CBB is expected to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding with the Swiss Federal Banking Commission, dealing with on-site inspections and cross-border supervision of Swiss banking institutions licensed to conduct business from The Bahamas. Further restrictive conditions on the licensing of bank and trust companies are anticipated as a result of the tightening of regulatory measures.