Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
BEFORE the long-awaited Gaming Bill is brought to Parliament, the government will implement several recommendations relayed last week by representatives of the Financial Action Task Force, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said yesterday.
His statements to The Tribune came a week after Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson met members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris, France, to understand if the proposed webshop regulations would stand up to international scrutiny on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing guidelines.
Mr Wilchcombe did not give details on the FATF’s recommendations or the impact they may have on the Gaming Bill, but he said the meeting between Mrs Maynard-Gibson and FATF representatives went “very well”. He said this signified that the final hurdle to regulating the webshop sector has been crossed.
“(FATF representatives) were very pleased that we engaged them,” he said. “(They) pointed us in certain directions.”
Mr Wilchcombe said once the FATF recommendations are implemented, he is confident local banks will participate in the new gaming regime.
He said the “countdown” to bringing the final Gaming Bill to Parliament is on once again, though he did not give an exact date when the bill will be brought.
He said: “We’ve had a tremendous amount of cooperation; we’ve heard dialogue from various banks, web shop owners (and) casino operators. We’ve had tremendous amount of consultation, people are understanding of the steps we are taking. We knew the FATF would be concerned about money laundering channelled through financial systems. We had to make sure we have a defined position for how to address their concerns.”
Leading bank officials have noted that regularising web shops would not be enough to address the problems with the sector that currently stop banks from conducting business with them.
Last month, Free National Movement Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner read a position paper from RBC (Bahamas) in the House of Assembly, which noted that dealing with web shops – even after they are regulated – would lead local banks to violate the global policies of their parent companies.
Liaising with the FATF and conforming to its guidelines is an important step in ensuring banks accept proceeds from regulated casinos and web shop operators.