Sir William Allen
Bahamas Minister of Finance

On the occasion of opening the recent 3-day Anti-Money Laundering Seminar jointly organised by the Office of the Attorney General and the Caribbean Anti-Money Laundering Programme (C.A.L.P.), Bahamas Minister of Finance Sir William Allen observed that money laundering is a problem of global concern. The Minister pointed out that, “Clearly, every democracy has a major interest in joining in the international war against the laundering of the proceeds of those crimes”. A primary purpose of focusing international efforts on money laundering was seen as denying the perpetrators the benefits of their crimes and, therefore, he continued, “putting measures in place to deal with money laundering must be seen as representing a fall back position in relation to dealing with crime in the first instance.” All countries have obligations and interest in effective anti-money laundering safeguards.

In the war on money laundering and criminal activity, discussions on appropriate punishment should be inclusive of every country, according to Minister Allen, who further stated that democracies are struggling to find appropriate ways of preventing, prosecuting and deterring the perpetration of crimes – using methods consistent with democratic principles and the rule of law. In the area of white collar crime, including tax evasion, even though the international community can agree on what constitutes such a crime, there has been no international recognition or consensus on the appropriate punishment.

In his opening remarks, the Minister also addressed the discrimination against offshore centers, pointing out that this could leave the international campaign against money laundering open to the charge of being “unduly partisan”. In fact, the largest amount of “dirty money” is generated in the most advanced countries, and not limited to offshore centres.

It was noted that Directors of the International Monetary Fund have devised an alternative method to the naming and shaming process adopted by G-7 anti-money laundering initiatives, the latter considered non-voluntary and non-cooperative. IMF initiatives were viewed as being “far more appropriate and conducive to international agreement and understanding”, notwithstanding the appropriate international standards being promoted by the FATF, for example. “The naming and shaming process invokes the prospect of coercion and imperialism,” said Minister Allen, and is “totally inappropriate to the construct of an international community of like-minded democratic nations committed to the rule of law.”

CALP is a five-year programme initiated in 1999 specifically to provide technical assistance and training to beneficiary countries in anti-money laundering efforts. This followed the recognition of money laundering as an issue of international security concern. The initiative is funded by the European Union (EU) and the United States, with the United Kingdom contributing staff. CALP’s main objective is to develop appropriate anti-money laundering strategies and mechanisms, and it also seeks to address issues arising from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF). Programme areas have been divided into the (i) Legal & Judicial Sector; (ii) Financial Sector; and (iii) Law Enforcement Sector.