February 13, 2019
Today the European Union College of Commissioners published a List of High Risk Third Countries for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (AML/CFT) deficiencies. The Listing of The Bahamas is linked to the FATF Action Plan and to the adverse Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Mutual Evaluation Report of the Nation’s AML/CFT framework, in May of 2017. It is allegedly based upon a perception that the listed countries pose a “threat” to the EU Financial system.
The Bahamas observes that this Listing by the EU Commissioners is apparently based on the FATF’s listing of The Bahamas and its placement of The Bahamas into an Action Plan.
In the circumstances where The Bahamas has, since the implementation of the FATF Action Plan in October, 2018, been re-evaluated as being Compliant or Largely Compliant with 30 of the FATF’s 40 Recommendations (up from Compliance in only 18, in 2017) it is the view of The Bahamas that the listing by the College of Commissioners of the European Union is not a proportionate response.
The principle of proportionality is a fundamental tenet of EU Law and the common law. It simply imports that the punishment should fit the offence.
To list a country, such as The Bahamas, that has made outstanding progress, in just over one year, in addressing the AML/CFT deficiencies identified in May 2017, together with wholly non-compliant, war-torn or even rogue States is disproportionate, and inflicts harm and punishment on a People with no regard for their important reforms and improvements in their AML/CFT framework. Such a “one size fits all” approach is unworthy of established Democracies, and is an affront to their own legal principles.
The Bahamas ought not to have been listed and regrets this action by the EU College of Commissioners. We will seek all ways to ameliorate and, if possible, encourage the EU Commissioners to reverse their decision.
The Hon. Carl W. Bethel, QC
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs
Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs