**Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson
Minister of Financial Services and Investments**
Minister Maynard-Gibson maintains that the unprecedented levels of direct foreign investments in The Bahamas, coupled with the continuous growth potential of the financial services sector, should provide extensive opportunities for service providers. Among these she lists banks, insurance companies, law offices, accounting firms, fund managers, real estate brokers and regulators.
She firmly believes that The Bahamas *”only scratches the surface”* in potential earnings from the sector, noting that financial services currently provides between 15 and 20 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
These remarks came as the Minister addressed Compliance Officers participating in the Northern Bahamas AML Conference hosted by the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers (BACO) in Grand Bahama. The billions of dollars worth of investments already approved or being approved throughout the country, will be critically impacted by continued confidence in The Bahamas as a secure jurisdiction, according to the Minister, and BACO has a role to play. Compliance is a highly specialised profession and Compliance Officers play a critical role in ensuring that investor confidence in The Bahamas remains high. She said, *”Investors look at a jurisdiction not only from the point of view of economic returns, but also from its endorsement of, and implementation of, internationally accepted standards to protect the world’s financial systems.”*
Back in 2000 BACO contributed to the process when The Bahamas put in place mechanisms that enabled the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to be satisfied of the country’s efforts to address its more than 40 recommendations. The Ministry reportedly will support efforts for educational programmes relating to money laundering and the financing of terrorism, as the Government *”continues to promote public/private partnerships.”* BACO was encouraged to facilitate ongoing employee training programmes to ensure that all industry workers have up-to-date, accurate and relevant information and knowledge to perform and to detect the numerous terrorist financing and anti-money laundering threats.
Also recommended was the establishment of a committee that will work closely with law enforcement and the Financial Intelligence Unit to develop intelligence-led methodologies. Such methodologies, according to Minister Maynard-Gibson, will help guide future work on terrorist financing and anti-money laundering. *”Your collective expertise and individual contributions, coupled with the public/private sector collaborative efforts, will continue to establish benchmarks for the conduct of compliance activities not only in The Bahamas, but throughout the region,”* she concluded.
Compliance Officers in The Bahamas formed the Association in 1999, with a stated mission of serving their respective financial service organisations and the broader Bahamian financial marketplace by enhancing the role of compliance within the Bahamian environment, and thereby enhancing public trust in better ensuring the integrity of the Bahamian financial service industry.
The role of the Compliance Officer gained even greater significance under Regulation 5(e) of the FIU (Transactions Reporting) Regulations, 2001 which provides that financial institutions shall *”identify and appoint a senior officer as a ‘compliance officer’ who shall ensure that a regulated institution is in full compliance with the laws of The Bahamas”.*
An International Diploma in Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering is offered in the Bahamas through a collaborative effort of the International Compliance Association, BACO, Bahamas Institute of Financial Services, and the Manchester School of Business.