April 27, 2019
The Hon. K. Peter Turnquest Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister of Finance acknowledged the work of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in its anti-money laundering efforts and combat of the financing of terrorism; and commended the work of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and Ministry of Legal Affairs in uniting industry stakeholders to agree on the way forward.
“This has been a very challenging process because each regulator has its own focus and priorities; all of the stakeholders have particular concerns and priorities and trying to get them all on the same page is not always an easy process,” said Mr. Turnquest.
“As an industry, the government through the OAG, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Financial services, we are doing all of the things we need to do to ensure that we clear all the outstanding issues. We’ve already made tremendous progress in clearing away the 40 points that were raised in the last evaluation, we’re now down to 18. We have a few more to go, with FIU being a central focus of those remaining issues. We are committed to ensuring that at the next evaluation we will have very few if any outstanding issues and then we go back to the world and say look at The Bahamas, the criticisms that you are making of us are unfair as we all know they are, and we can justify and here’s why.”
He said the OAG and Ministry of Legal Affairs have done “yeomen’s” work in bringing together all of the various regulators and stakeholders to ensure they are on the same thought pattern in the improvements to be made with all regulators and industry stakeholders.
The DPM delivered the keynote address at the FIU forum for Money Laundering Reporting Officers (MLROs) Wednesday, April 24 at the British Colonial Hilton. The theme for the forum was “Partnering to Overcome the Challenges”. It was attended by representatives from law enforcement agencies and financial services regulators. The Hon. Carl Bethel, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs was also among the attendees.
Wendy Farrington, Deputy Head of Analysis, said like the FIU, MLROs have a significant responsibility. “We value your disclosures and know that without this information there is potential for serious ramifications to our financial centre resulting from criminal conduct.
“Your presence signifies your comfort to protecting the reputation and economic viability of our country’s financial services centre,” added Ms. Farrington.
Quinn McCartney, Director of the FIU, underscored the importance of stakeholders in the financial services industry forging even stronger relationships and partnering more.
“It is imperative that we meet as often as possible, exchange ideas, devise strategies and where necessary make adjustments.
“It is imperative that we do this to ensure that The Bahamas not only meets or exceeds numerous international standards, but just as important we need to do this to ensure that our jurisdiction remains at its competitive advantage.
“Vigilant MLROs play a vital role in ensuring that all suspicious transactions are indeed reported to the FIU and that the quality of the reports are such that any attempts to launder money by whatever means would be discovered,” said Mr. McCartney.
The forum comprised a closed session with MLROs at which Mr. McCartney and Joann Creary, Legal Counsel were expected to give remarks. A question and answer period followed.
The Financial Intelligence Unit of The Bahamas was established by an Act of Parliament in December 2000. It is a statutory agency which is responsible for receiving, analyzing, obtaining and disseminating information which relates to or may relate to the proceeds specified in the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2018, the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 2018.
Money Laundering Reporting Officers Forum held at the British Colonial Hilton, April 24, 2019: Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest makes address at the podium. Attorney General Carl Bethel (right) confers with FIU Director Quinn McCartney. (BIS Photos/Derek Smith)
By Kathryn Campbell