Industry Chief Calls for Level Playing Field

Last week Officials from the Financial Action Task Force concluded a 2-day inspection of the Bahamas’ financial services industry. The team was here as part of the FATF’s Review Group of the Americas, assessing the new regulatory regime in place – particularly implementation measures.

The Chairman of the Bahamas Financial Services Board, Ian Fair, said “the way to success is open dialogue, equal and common standards which respect the position of individual nations, and no hidden agendas — all of which must, for everyone’s good, be conducted on a transparent and level playing field.”

The Financial Action Task Force was established by the countries of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, the so-called G-7, at a 1989 Summit examining measures to combat money laundering. Its membership currently consists of 29 countries.

In 1990, the FATF issued forty recommendations devised to combat money laundering. These recommendations were revised in 1996 to reflect changes in the patterns of money laundering. The FATF also established 25 criteria to be used to determine whether a jurisdiction is cooperative or non-cooperative in the fight against money laundering.

The Bahamas was included with a number of countries named last year as “uncooperative”. Removal of countries from the so-called blacklist would appear to be contingent on an assessment of how they have fulfilled the requirements to meet best practices.

Mr. Fair called on the Review Group to consider the notion of absolute equality and identical standards for all who are seriously engaged and committed to the multilateral anti-money laundering initiatives. Notwithstanding the disparity existing even between the members of the FATF, the BFSB Chairman acknowledged the importance of these initiatives, stating that the ultimate goal has to be adherence to a commonly agreed set of international standards.