As anticipated following the enhanced legislative, regulatory and supervisory regime implemented in The Bahamas, the nation is one of four countries now removed from the so-called “blacklist” of non-cooperative countries and territories.
Today, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) published its twelfth annual report, outlining main achievements during 2000-2001, and including the significant progress in work on non-cooperative countries and territories (NCCTs).
Also removed from the list were the Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein and Panama.
The inter-governmental body, formed to develop and promote policies to combat money laundering, last year published a list of countries and territories deemed to be non cooperative in the universal fight against money laundering. At that time, The Bahamas branded its inclusion on the list as unfair, particularly as it had introduced an anti-money laundering regime in 1996 and, as recently as mid 2000, had been commended by the FATF for its various efforts in this connection. The Government nevertheless undertook constructive cooperation and dialogue to address the issues of concern. The FATF comprises major financial centre countries of Europe, North America and Asia, in addition to international organisations, effectively bringing together the policy-making power of legal, financial and law enforcement experts.
The FATF initiative seeks to encourage universal adoption of a framework for anti-money laundering efforts, embodied in “The Forty Recommendations, with the multi-disciplinary task force undertaking to implement the measures. The FATF described the anti money laundering initiative and policies as being aimed at preventing the proceeds of crime from being utilised in future criminal activities and from affecting legitimate economic activities. Mr. José María Roldán, President of the Task Force, today said it is evident the initiative *”has triggered significant improvements in anti-money laundering systems throughout the world.”*
The FATF announced the removal of the four countries from the list as one of several steps taken in order to reduce the vulnerability of the international financial system and increase the world-wide effectiveness of anti-money laundering measures. In so doing, it also recognised that The Bahamas *”has addressed the deficiencies identified by the FATF through the enactment of legal reforms, and has taken concrete steps to implement these reforms.”*
The Forty Recommendations were drawn up initially in 1990, but revised in 1996 to take into account experiences gained in the first 6 years, as well as to reflect changes occurring with money laundering. The measures cover (a) the role of national legal and financial systems in combating money laundering; and (b) the strengthening of international and other forms of co-operation. It was announced at the meeting in Paris that the Task Force has initiated another comprehensive review of the Forty Recommendations.
The inclusion of The Bahamas on the earlier list resulted in a number of countries issuing advisories to their national financial institutions recommending enhanced scrutiny of transactions originating from The Bahamas. With the removal of The Bahamas from the list of NCCTs, Sir William Allen, Bahamas Minister of Finance, announced today that it is anticipated these countries will be obliged now to remove such advisories. In fact, in its release from Paris, the FATF specifically stated that procedures prescribed in the relevant FATF Recommendation 21 “are withdrawn”.
To address specific FATF-cited concerns with the national anti-money laundering regime, as well as other issues regarding regulatory oversight, cross-border supervision and related international cooperation, and ring fencing policies, a comprehensive package of financial services legislation was enacted in The Bahamas during the course of 2000. The Government emphasised the interest of The Bahamas in “a well-regulated and transparent global market for the conduct of international finance.” Legislaton enacted included:
– Banks and Trust Companies Regulation Act, 2000
– Central Bank of The Bahamas Act, 2000
– Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act and Regulations, 2000
– Dangerous Drugs Act, 2000
– Evidence Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act & Amendment, 2000
– Financial and Corporate Service Providers Act, 2000
– Financial Intelligence Unit Act, 2000
– Financial Transactions Reporting Act and Regulations, 2000
– International Business Companies Act, 2000
– Proceeds of Crime Act, 2000
The Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, confidently maintains that *”..today, the legislation, regulation and implementation structures are in place to ensure a quality financial services sector. And the same may be said of our oversight supervision of the sector.”*
While the Government of The Bahamas is looking at certain provisions to address concerns relating to ongoing practical implementation of the new regulatory and supervisory regime, these issues *”do not go to the fundamental requirements of the anti money laundering initiatives”*, according to Sir William.