**Hon. Vincent Peet, M.P.
Minister of Financial Services and Investments**

Minister Vincent Peet, presenting remarks at last month’s Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) Seminar hosted by the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers (BACO), acknowledged that the financial services sector in The Bahamas experienced a metamorphosis that resulted in fundamental changes in recent years. He said the introduction and amendment of legislation led to a restructured legislative and regulatory environment for the financial services industry.

*”As a significant contributor of approximately 20% of the country’s GDP, it is evident that the financial services sector plays a pivotal role in the economic development of our nation,”*said the Minister. To ensure the continued growth and development of this vital industry, the government is committed to fiscal prudence and internationally accepted standards.

He noted the success of BACO’s commitment to the detection and prevention of money laundering as evidenced by the large number of cases that have been reported to the statutory Financial Intelligence Unit – and investigated as a result of the vigilance of Compliance Officers.

Additionally, he pointed out, the threat of terrorism and the funding of it have added another dimension to the use of funds for criminal activity which the Bahamas Government has sought to counter with the introduction of the Anti-Terrorist Act. *”But, as you are no doubt aware, none of these legislative or administrative actions would be of any benefit if members of the financial services sector, and BACO in particular, were not prepared to be vigilant to defend and safeguard not only their reputations, but also that of The Bahamas, and to ensure continued and heightened compliance with international norms and standards.”*

Addressing delegates at the PLP Convention earlier this month, Minister Peet emphasised the strength of the financial services sector could be attributed to the Government’s focus, determination, and hard work and to the passage of relevant legislation. He continued, *” We are committed to the institutionalized strengthening of the financial services industry through on-going public private sector consultation, unity and accountability to ensure that The Bahamas remains a world respected “blue chip” well-regulated and cooperative financial services centre.”*

This month, the Minister also addressed a special luncheon meeting held as part of the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services (BIFS) annual Week of Seminars. He told participants that training and retraining is vital to the continued development of the financial services sector. *”The need to enhance your personal image but also that of the country, and to ensure that ethical standards and transparency are the order of the day is of paramount importance if we are to remain a world-renowned financial services centre.”* At that forum, Minister Peet also encouraged the strengthening of public/private partnerships and the promotion of The Bahamas within the global arena as a nation “open for business”.

The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) is scheduled to commence its third round review of the jurisdiction’s financial services regulatory regime this coming week. The evaluation is expected to monitored by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of special arrangements between the two agencies, and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) also will see the evaluation ahead of its own review of The Bahamas in October. CFATF is an organisation of Caribbean Basin states that have agreed to implement common countermeasures to address the problem of criminal money laundering.