Friday, October 17, 2014
Friday, October 17, 2014
As the government prepares for an evaluation from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) next year, the public sector is working closely with the private sector to strengthen The Bahamas’ anti-money laundering (AML) regime–identifying and resolving any vulnerabilities.
The CFATF is carrying out a series of mutual evaluations with member states to assess their money laundering and terrorism financing risk. The Bahamas’ evaluation will take place at the end of 2015 and, according to national anti-money laundering & risk coordinator Stephen Thompson, the country is working diligently to ensure it is ready with workshops, mock evaluations and collaborative discussions with all stakeholders in the industry.
Speaking at the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers (BACO)‘s Money Laundering Reporting Officers (MLRO) Day this week, Thompson stressed the importance of a close working relationship between all parties, saying: “We will only go as far as our collaboration takes us. Coordination is so important. If the sector is to succeed, it will take each one of us [and] everybody moving in the same direction in a coordinated manner.”
“This is our sector. This is our future. If the sector is going to make it, we must continue to consult one another. We must talk. Bring your expertise to the table and let us do this together. We will only be as strong as what you bring to the table.”
Representatives from the Bahamas Financial Services Board, BACO, The Bahamas Institute of Financial Services, the Office of the Attorney-General, the Securities Commission, the Central Bank of The Bahamas and other industry groups are all involved in helping the government draw up a National Risk Assessment, added Thompson.
Thompson, who also serves as inspector of the Compliance Commission, said the country’s AML regime needed to be strengthened and reviewed bi-annually “consistently and on a sustained basis.”
He referred to compliance professionals as “gatekeepers” of the financial services industry and praised their efforts in bolstering the country’s reputation internationally saying: “We have been regarded as a leader–certainly in the Caribbean context.”
BACO’s MLRO Day was held at the British Colonial Hilton, Nassau. Additional speakers included senior manager, legal department at the Ministry of Tourism, Vivienne Dean, who spoke about the gaming bill currently before parliament and BACO president Shasta Treco-Moxey, who outlined the importance of enhanced due diligence.