Financial Intelligence Unit Preparing To Issue Suspicious Transaction Guidelines – Input To Be Sought From Financial Services Industry

The Director of the newly-formed FIU of The Bahamas today issued a public notice indicating its intention to issue suspicious transactions guidelines, in accordance with sections 15 and 16 (1)(b) of the Financial Intelligence Unit Act, 2000 coming into force on December 29, 2000.

Financial institutions likely to be affected have been invited to signal their interest in being consulted in the course of the development of such guidelines.

The Financial Intelligence Unit Act, 2000 was a direct response to an FATF 2000 initiative, one of three initiatives inaugurated by supranational agencies and directed at international financial services in offshore jurisdictions.

The Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units describes an FIU as “a central, national agency responsible for receiving (and, as permitted, requesting), analyzing and disseminating to the competent authorities disclosures of financial information (a) concerning suspected proceeds of crime, and (b) required by national legislation or regulation”.

Under the Act, The Bahamas FIU’s function is to receive, anlayse, obtain and disseminate information relating to the proceeds of an offence; all disclosures of information required to be made under the Proceeds of Crime Act, 2000 will be made to the FIU.

The FIU Act was “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.

The Prime Minister of The Bahamas has confirmed that 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.”