The Bahamas and Canada have signed an **Asset Sharing Agreement**, to formalise an existing arrangement to confiscate the proceeds of drug trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Brent Symonette and Denis Kingsley, High Commissioner for Canada to The Bahamas, signed the Agreement for their respective governments during a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday. The Minister said, *”This Agreement with Canada is symbolic of the excellent relationship that exists between our two countries and we look forward to continued collaboration in these and other matters.”*
The Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty (1990) between The Bahamas and Canada facilitates the gathering of evidence and intelligence in the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences. It also enhances the capabilities in the confiscation of the proceeds of crime. *“Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) are concluded between two countries for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information in an effort to enforce criminal laws and confiscate the ill-gotten gains of criminal activity,”* Minister Symonette said. The aim is to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement in both countries in the investigation, prosecution and suppression of crime through the tracing, freezing, seizure and forfeiture or confiscation of assets related to crime, and the creation of a framework for sharing the proceeds and disposition of such assets.
The Minister further stated that cooperation between the governments of The Bahamas and Canada in joint criminal investigations such as narcotics trafficking and money laundering envisaged by the MLAT, has been mutually beneficial to both. *“By utilising resources confiscated from convicted criminals specifically in the fight against crime and to assist in the prevention of crime, we can increase our efforts in terms of improved infrastructure and increased man power,”* he said. He noted at this time that The Bahamas also is pursuing negotiations with the United States to formalise existing cooperation into an Asset Sharing Agreement.
High Commissioner Kingsley noted that The Bahamas and Canada have enjoyed a longstanding relationship that can be improved through such agreements. *“We continue to work constructively with the Bahamian Government in areas such as trade and finance, education and security.”* The Agreement also provides for the sharing of seized funds when they are confiscated or forfeited as a result of shared criminal investigations, and the High Commissioner added, *“The sharing of funds would encourage continued cooperation between our governments as we address the challenges posed in trans-national crimes.”*
Sections 52 and 53 of this jurisdiction’s Proceeds of Crime Act 2000 provide for the establishment and administration of the Confiscated Assets Fund. The Bahamas introduced this Act pursuant to the 1988 United Nations Convention Against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.