National Strategy ‘Critical’ to The Bahamas

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Sen. Hon Claire Hepburn/  Attorney General of The Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas – A National Strategy on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism will assist in developing clearly identified national goals critical to The Bahamas sustaining its reputation as an internationally recognized, well-regulated financial services jurisdiction, Attorney General the Hon. Claire Hepburn said Monday.

“It is accepted that the first step in the fight against money laundering must be the enactment of effective anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism legislation,” Mrs. Hepburn said at a seminar on a National Strategy on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel.

Mrs. Hepburn referred to the comprehensive package of legislation enacted by Parliament in 2000 and subsequent related amendments to address the problem of money laundering; and the Anti-Terrorism Act passed in 2004 to effectively deal with the financing of terrorism.

She said that further amendments to the legislation may become necessary in the future as the landscape and circumstances of financial services change both locally and abroad.

“However, in determining what, if any changes ought to be made to the current legislation, the Government’s overriding consideration will, as always, be to act in the best interest of the Bahamian people,” the Attorney General said.

Mrs. Hepburn said it is imperative that an Umbrella Group or Committee be established, which can review and make recommendations to the Government on AML/CFT matters at a policy level, using statistics provided by the Umbrella Group or Committee.

She noted that there is presently an ad hoc Committee known as the “Task Force” which carries out such functions. The Committee is comprised of representatives from various government agencies and meets on a monthly basis with special call meetings when the need arises.

The Attorney General said efforts are being made to formally establish the committee by legislation.

She said having established the Committee, the next step in the continued fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism must be the development of a National AML/CFT Strategy for The Bahamas.

“In this regard, you would have received Templates on the National AML/CFT Strategy from the FIU in June and July of this year,” Mrs. Hepburn said. “It is anticipated that once the Templates on the National Strategy are completed, the information will be collated into a formal report and eventually submitted to the Government of The Bahamas.”

She said it is anticipated that the National Strategy will provide all of the relevant parties with measurable goals and outcomes.

“More importantly, it will, amongst other things, assist in developing clearly identified ‘national goals’ which is critical if The Bahamas is to sustain its reputation as an internationally recognized, well-regulated financial services jurisdiction,” Mrs. Hepburn said.

The Attorney General urged seminar participants, as team players, to complete the Templates on the National AML/CFT Strategy and return them to the Financial Intelligence Unit as quickly as possible.

“It is my sincere hope that the outcome of this seminar will be that participants will have the necessary information needed to complete the Templates on the National ALM/CFT Strategy and that, ultimately, we will have information necessary to design a National AML/CFT Strategy which is comprehensive, integrated, coherent and simple with succinct procedures for implementation, based on acceptable international standards and practice,” Mrs. Hepburn said.