Bahamas: Hit By New Financial Blow-‘Punching Bag’

The Bahamas was yesterday branded “a punching bag” after its financial services industry was dealt a fresh blow by global anti-money laundering overseers.

KP Turnquest, the Deputy Prime Minister, told Tribune Business that “institutional strengthening” will be a key element in the Government’s response to the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) inclusion of this nation among 11 countries with “structural deficiencies” in their anti-money laundering/counter terror financing (AML/CFT) regimes.

The Paris-based body, which effectively started the Bahamian financial services industry’s near-20 year decline when it “blacklisted” this nation in 2000, ranked it alongside war-torn countries such as Syria and Yemen as “jurisdictions that pose a risk to the international financial system”.

It identified seven areas where The Bahamas needs to improve under an “action plan” agreed with the Government, and placed strong emphasis on the need for this nation to implement and enforce the anti-financial crime laws on the statute book.

In particular, the FATF indicated it wants to see more money laundering/terror financing investigations and prosecutions, and an increase in suspicious transactions reports (STRs) filed with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). Its regional affiliate, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), last year found that the level of such enforcement activity was insufficient for a nation with such a large financial services sector.

The FATF, in a statement following its October 19 plenary, said The Bahamas had “made a high-level political commitment” to work with itself and the CFATF “to strengthen the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering/counter terrorism financing regime and address any related technical deficiencies”.



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