By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas must be on “top of its game” and “ahead of the pace” in combating in financial crimes, a Cabinet minister said yesterday, adding that just one incident could be extremely damaging to the jurisdiction.
Unveiling a Certified Crime Specialist Programme (CFCS) training course, Ryan Pinder, minister of financial services, praised the Bahamian talent in the financial services industry as one of the primary reasons why there were few reported episodes of financial crime.
“I think our industry is very well respected, it’s very protected, but it only takes a little bit of laying off and you put the entire industry at risk,” said Mr Pinder.
The Ministry of Financial Services, along with the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers (BACO) and the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists, have begun a programme which Mr Pinder said will help to promote the Bahamas’ as a centre for educational excellence.
Thirteen members of BACO, and two members of the Ministry of Financial Services, have been granted scholarships to participate in the certification programme. They are scheduled to complete the course by April 2014.
“The Bahamas Government is committed to working closely with the international agency in this effort to shape a sensible approach for ensuring tax compliance and addressing ever-increasing financial crimes,” Mr Pinder said.
“The Government is dedicated to doubling the investment in education and equipping the financial services industry with trained professionals through our commitment to human capital development.
“This programme is reinforcing the Bahamas as the lead financial services centre, ensuring our industry leaders and professionals are exposed to international training opportunities and resources. As a responsible financial centre, we are committed to not only adhering and meeting international regulatory requirements, but also participating in their design.”
Mr Pinder added: “The aim of this innovative collaboration is to promote the Bahamas’ continued role as a leading centre for educational excellence through the further education of financial services professionals, particularly compliance professionals in the Bahamas, with potential of achieving global reach as leaders in professional services.
“The CFCS certification exam covers anti-money laundering, tax evasion, FATCA, corruption, compliance, investigation, data security, ethics and international standards.
“These subjects, and the job tasks performed by financial crime specialists, were identified by a group of top experts and probed by an ACFCS worldwide survey. The examination is international in scope, and not dependent on the laws, regulations or practices of any one country.”
BACO president, Marsha Ferguson, said: “BACO is committed to helping its compliance professionals receive and attain the most knowledge and up-to-date information, so that we are able to provide the best advice to the industry as we continue to ensure that the Bahamas remains protected by complying with the laws and regulations we must adhere to.
“We have partnered with ACFCS because we believe that the CFCS certification provides essential knowledge about financial crime that will assist us in combating potential abusers of the financial services industry.”
Charles Intriago, ACFCS’s president, said: “ACFCS launched the CFCS certification less than a year ago, and already we are in more than 64 countries worldwide and growing.
“The reason the CFCS certification is so important is because it focuses on an important element in financial crime, that is ‘crime’.”
Mr Intriago added: “We recognise that this comprehensive approach to financial crime is logical. All financial crimes have certain commonalities. They all involve money laundering; all produce tax evasion; they all require a financial institution to be executed if they get that far; they all have an interface at one point or another with a government agency; and lastly, they all leave someone or some agency poorer than they were before.”