Hon. Alfred Sears, M.P.
Attorney General and Minister of Education

Minister Sears presented remarks at the recent Awards Dinner hosted by the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers (BACO). This is the occasion when BACO honours graduates of the Anti-Money Laundering and Compliance Diploma Course it jointly sponsors with the International Compliance Association (ICA) and the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services (BIFS).

The Minister spoke to the importance of industry professionals preparing themselves to operate in the global environment – and particularly in a political one where competitors set the rules. A “skilled society” is essential to defend the nation’s economy, he said. Not only were compliance professionals encouraged to look at opportunities in the global corporate world, but also within the multilateral organisations – ensuring that the voice of the jurisdiction is heard when decisions impacting its economy are made.

Special tribute was paid to BACO for the aggressive programme of work it has undertaken since its inception some 4 years ago. Minister Sears specifically referenced the role played by the association in the latest Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) mutual evaluation of the Bahamian economy, as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) OFC assessment programme. These partnerships, he said, attested to the respect BACO has gained internationally as well.

**AML/Compliance Training**

Also addressing the Awards Dinner was William Howarth, CEO of the International Compliance Association. He credited BACO as being the strongest local association amongst its affiliates, noting that the AML/Compliance Diploma recipients had completed a programme that rivalled *”any compliance training in the world”.*

BACO President Robin Scavella congratulated the graduates as well, noting that they are prepared now to play a vital role in protecting the reputation of The Bahamas’ financial services sector.

BACO was formed to assist in the challenges being experienced by legal and financial professionals in the financial services sector as they take on roles as Compliance Personnel, and Ms. Scavella expressed gratification at the partnership between BACO, ICA and BIFS. She described the initiative as part of efforts *”to hone the mind and skill set”* of the Compliance professional in today’s environment when the importance of financial services is heightened and global challenges continue.

Completion of the International Diploma leads to individual professional membership of the International Compliance Association (MICA) and, after five years relevant working experience, to Fellowship (FICA). The Diploma indicates a high level of practical competence in the field of international compliance and anti money laundering practice.

The main focus of BACO is the training and education of compliance officers in the Bahamas. Its stated mission is to serve related financial service organisations and the Bahamian marketplace by seeking to enhance the role of compliance within The Bahamas environment, thereby enhancing public trust in – and to better ensure the integrity of – The Bahamas financial services industry.