Friday, October 25, 2013
Friday, October 25, 2013
The inaugural meeting of the National Anti-money Laundering Task Force was held October 23 at the Office of the Attorney General.
The Task Force comprises stakeholders representing the public and private sectors, policy makers and regulators. Stephen Thompson, Inspector at the Compliance Commission, is the coordinator.
Senator Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, welcomed the members of the Task Force and expressed pride in the appointment of a coordinator and the launch of the project.
She described it as an “exciting” time in the country’s history.
Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder, undersecretary in the Attorney General’s Office Cynthia Gibbs and Dr Nicola Virgill-Rolle, director, in the Ministry of Financial Services were among those in attendance.
The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) is an organization consisting of 29 countries in the Caribbean region, which have agreed to “implement common countermeasures to address the problem of criminal money laundering.”
The main purpose of CFATF is to “achieve effective implementation of and compliance with its recommendations to prevent and control money laundering and to combat the financing of terrorism.”
One of the 40 recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering body established in 1989, is the establishment of a national coordination body headed by a coordinator. CFATF is an associate member of FATF.
The Bahamas is a member of the regional body of CFATF and will become the chair of CFATF in November. Maynard-Gibson is deputy chair for the period 2012-13.
The Attorney General expressed her desire to bring regional resources together so that as a body CFATF could successfully emerge from the fourth round of evaluations.
“That means that we would have to have CARICOM prime ministers understand why financial services are so important for each country and how to position financial services, not just from a marketing standpoint, but also from a regulatory stand point,” she said.
“No one will be interested in talk of what’s on our books. They will want to know that there will be in place the mechanisms to effectively deal with money laundering, terrorism financing etc.”
Minister Pinder said the Task Force is a “significant” body for the advancement of the industry with a very important job, because the global issues not only affect the regulatory integrity of the country, but the integrity, advancement and development of the industry.
“If you cannot properly define how these developments affect your country and your industry, you cannot properly guide the industry to growth and development,” said the Minister.
He commended the Task Force, thanked the Attorney General for its formation and for the multi-stakeholder approach to address the issues.
“We can’t have the regulatory side pushing without the industry’s input on how it affects the industry and finding a commonality that satisfies everybody and the development of everybody. We all know the industry is changing and evolving. How do we approach it that satisfies the obligations of all involved from the policy maker, to the regulator to the industry? [It is] very important to have everybody at the table.”
As leaders and policy makers in the region, he urged the Task Force to lead with the integrity, the forthrightness and the progressive mindset that The Bahamas is known to possess.
Minister Pinder asserted that The Bahamas has the most “qualified” and “developed” human capital when it comes to the technical expertise to guard against money laundering violations particularly compliance and compliance officers.
Thompson said coordination of efforts has been overlooked in the past. He expressed pleasure that policy makers, regulators and the private sector are all represented on the team. “I think coordination of efforts is important and together we will safeguard the industry and in the long run our country. That’s the point we’ve been missing over the years. The regulatory arm was working on one side and the private sector on another.”
He told the Task Force that anti-money laundering training is critical as it is necessary for regulators, the private sector and all relevant stakeholders to keep abreast of the latest typologies and methods of tax and other financial crimes that people are committing.
The coordinator called for a culture of anti-money laundering to be engendered so that people will know that anti-money laundering is strong and alive and financial crime is unacceptable in The Bahamas.
The Task Force will meet on a monthly basis. Plenary meeting sessions of CFATA are scheduled from November 18-21 in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson (centre) addresses the newly appointed National Anti-Money Laundering Task Force October 23 in the Office of the Attorney General. Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder is shown at the right of the Attorney General. (BIS Photo/Raymond Bethel)