– Bahamas Financial Intelligence Unit
Part of Compliance Efforts

On his return from a month-long trip to Europe, Prime Minister H. Ingraham reported that the Government delegation had “discussions with the major groupings in the European capitals about the new financial architecture being developed by the developed world, and to see the extent to which The Bahamas can come into full compliance with that new architecture”.

At a press conference held upon his arrival, the Prime Minister also announced plans for the introduction within the House of Assembly this week of legislation relating to anti-money laundering measures Specifically, a bill will be introduced for the establishment of a financial intelligence unit, with plans for formal establishment within the next few weeks. The Bahamas intends to cooperate fully with all international financial intelligence units and/or policing organisations in the fight against money laundering.

Also to be put forward this week is a bill dealing with international co-operation by The Bahamas in criminal matters. “Thereafter, we shall put forward bills that will deal with The Central Bank Act, the Bank and Trust Companies Act, a new Proceeds of Crime Act, and a new act that will deal with regulating the providers of financial service” said Prime Minister Ingraham. According to the Prime Minister, additional changes are expected to be made to administrative, regulatory and supervisory financial services regime, to ensure that The Bahamas will remain as “major players” in the international financial services sector — and, specifically, to speed up the process of removal from the FATF’s blacklist.

The banking system in The Bahamas will have to come into compliance with new international regulations and requirements, but the Prime Minister noted that no reputable financial institution in the country should experience any difficulty meeting these new requirements. It is expected that home regulators of international banking institutions will be allowed on site inspections in The Bahamas to ensure that their banks operating here “are compliant with their laws and are being conducted in accordance with their laws”. With specific regard to bank secrecy, the Prime Minister noted that Bahamas banking laws were never intended to protect, shield or conceal criminal activity.

While in Europe, the Prime Minister and his delegation met with the heads of banking institutions operating in The Bahamas and reported that they were very receptive and appreciative of the seriousness with which The Bahamas has responded to concerns. Prime Minister Ingraham said “..they were satisfied that they were dealing with a credible government which was not itself involved in any untoward activity and which itself was seeking to assure that its rules and practices in the financial sector come into compliance with the new evolving world order”.