Financial Intelligence Unit Act 2000
…part of ongoing review of legislative and regulatory regime

On October 18, the Bahamas Government presented to Parliament a bill providing for the establishment of a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The second reading of and debate on the Financial Intelligence Unit Act 2000 commenced this week in the House of Assembly.

Intended to enable The Bahamas’ compliance with international standards and practices, the FIU is expected to become operational by year end. According to the Prime Minister, the new Unit will operate under guidelines with which multi-national financial institutions elsewhere are familiar. “We are not asking banking institutions in The Bahamas to operate under rules that they are unfamiliar with. We are not asking them to have a reduced standard when they are in The Bahamas. We are asking them to conduct business in The Bahamas as they would in Zurich, or Toronto, or London or New York.”

The legislation has been “benchmarked” to ensure compliance with acceptable practices in multiple jurisdictions. American, Canadian and Swiss banks — and all other foreign banks operating in The Bahamas — are not expected to have difficulty with provisions and powers of the Financial Intelligence Unit, as they all operate in jurisdictions with similar procedures, and powers given to the equivalent agencies.

Although citing that there has not been a major money laundering case emanating from or passing through The Bahamas, the Prime Minister indicated that the nation will implement the necessary legislation to prosecute offenders, in light of its interest in operating a financial system “that is not friendly to money laundering”.

Also presented to the Parliament on October 18 was the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Bill. The full package of new and amended legislation slated to be presented shortly includes: The Central Bank Act, The Bank and Trust Companies Act, The International Business Companies Act, The Mutual Legal Assistance Act, the Trustee Act, The Financial Services Providers Regulation Act, and The Financial Transactions Reporting Act. Already approved by Parliament were the new Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act 2000 and the Money Laundering (Proceeds of Crime) Amendment Act 2000.