Thursday, February 1, 2018
Thursday, February 1, 2018
Regulators disseminated critical risk information to hundreds of stakeholders in the financial services sector who were attending a first of its kind National Risk Assessment (NRA) Industry Briefing yesterday.
The two and a half hour meeting at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort January 31 completed compliance with international standards in the fight against money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF) mandated by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
An extensive government-led assessment identifying inherent money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) risks in The Bahamas culminated in a report approved by Cabinet last December.
The report provided an overview of associated risks before and after the application of mitigation measures, which included a range of legislative, regulatory and operational actions to prevent, detect and disrupt criminal activities.
It is relevant to financial and non-financial service providers that have reporting obligations under the Proceeds of Crime Act and Anti-Terrorism Act.
The completion of this very important exercise and approval by the government means the jurisdiction is in compliance with Recommendation 1 of FATF.
The event was successful beyond its high turn-out which Tanya McCartney, CEO and executive director of the Bahamas Financial Services Board, estimated to be around 300.
“For the first time on a national level we have exposed the industry to the process by which we developed this national risk assessment document and came up with our risk profile. It also provided an overview as to what the next steps are – increased obligations that they may be subject to, increased oversight from regulators,” she said.
“I think every person leaving here within a specific area of the financial services sector knows what to expect as it relates to anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism. We now have a living document (because it’s subject to change) that looks at our vulnerabilities and what the threats are, and we are mandated to put in place a strategy to mitigate against those risks.”
According to Cassandra Nottage, a 36-year veteran Central Banker who formerly managed the bank’s supervisions department, it was not an easy task to draw to a conclusion the work of so many committed persons from the public and private sectors.
“We are thankful today that it is completed,” said Nottage, now a regulatory and financial sector consultant attached to the Office of the Attorney General.
“We believe that it was an invaluable exercise as the results identified vulnerabilities and threats that can be tackled across regulatory and other government agencies in a focused fashion utilizing scarce resources more efficiently than in previous years.”
Going forward, McCartney envisages major NRA briefings held annually.
“Outside of that, each regulator is going to have to meet with their licensees to go through the changes that are coming, to prepare them for it,” she said. “I expect that we will have smaller events led by regulators to deal with their specific issues.”