The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, delivered remarks at the first regional Anti-money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Conference held in Nassau at the British Colonial Hilton April 2-3.

He said economies of the Caribbean Region are gradually changing from being goods-based to becoming service-based. Consequently, the financial services sector is evolving into a significant generator of revenues for regional governments. Meetings such as these, he said, are significant in order to facilitate necessary dialogue between stakeholders in the financial services sector.

Thanks were accorded to FATF President Vladimir Nechaev for suggesting the establishment of the annual regional conference and for his attendance and active participation. Mr. Christie, confirmed The Bahamas’ commitment to fighting financial crimes. Further, *“All regulatory agencies in the Region should be seen to be espousing a regional view that criminals should not be allowed to launder their ill-gotten funds and when such funds are confiscated, they should never access them again.”*

The Chairperson of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), Bahamas Attorney-General & Minister of Legal Affairs Sen. Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, delivered welcome remarks, pointing out that The Bahamas was deeply honoured to host the conference, the first of its kind. Sen. Maynard-Gibson told the delegates that the region is counting on them to choose the “right path” at this juncture in its history. She encouraged conference deliberations the will benefit future generations. She concluded, *“I welcome and thank those at ministerial level including the numerous attorneys general and ministers of justice and national security for taking time from their very busy schedules to join in making plans for all CFATF members to emerge at least 75 percent compliant at the end of the fourth round of mutual evaluations.”*

FATF President Nechaev was [keynote speaker](, and focussed on the importance of such forums. He noted that in the next round the focus will be on “effectiveness” and also emphasised the need to have at least 75 percent compliance at the end of the round. *“I should stress that measuring effectiveness is not about statistics, but about measuring whether the system is achieving the results it should achieve. That is an important difference, which should guide countries in every step of the preparations for the fourth round,”* said President Nechaev.

*“Fighting financial crime in the region is an imperative for all of us,”* said Prime Minister Christie. To this end, he made four suggestions to combat financial crimes:

* The first is to assume the role of Patron of the CFATF; to champion its work with colleagues within CARICOM and around the world as well as with regional and international institutions.
* The second is the establishment of “the CFATF Council of Elders”. In this forum, current and former CFATF chairmen could meet as circumstances dictate (as necessary with regional and other international experts in financial services) to review issues facing the organisation and its membership, to provide advice and to undertake strategic intervention to assist in accomplishing CFATF objectives.
* The third initiative – to support the “at least75 percent compliant” objective – is to ask every member to make a special contribution towards the cost of achieving that objective. To this end, The Bahamas will again this year donate $30,000.
* The fourth initiative was to have the University of The Bahamas position the Franklyn Wilson School of Business as the leading school in the region for conferring degrees and offering courses in all aspects of financial services including operations, governance, AML/CFT and other compliance matters.