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Criminals May Be Allowed To Have Webshop Licences

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE government has not yet determined whether persons with a criminal record will be eligible to obtain webshop licences, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe confirmed yesterday.

While he did not give an updated timeline for when the highly anticipated legislation will be brought to the House of Assembly, Mr Wilchcombe said the government will be prepared to debate it after Bills for Value Added Tax and the

upcoming constitutional referendum were passed.

According to an industry insider, a prominent web shop owner was told last week that he would not be able to obtain a licence given his criminal record.

“We’re still working on it (gaming legislation),” Mr Wilchcombe said when questioned about the report. “At the end of the day I think it’s still premature to talk about anything that is going to be in the legislation before you see it. We’re fully aware of our circumstances in the Bahamas, based on our own research to craft legislation that takes into account the reality of our country and what exists in the Bahamas.

“In fact all owners now are in breach of the law, so if you look at it that way you shouldn’t even look at what regularising will do.”

He said: “What we’re trying to do is find a paradigm that allows us to accept the reality of the Bahamas and the existence of persons in such circumstances to arrive at legislation beneficial for the country.”

According to the insider, there was also speculation that the legislation would place restrictions on web shops that would limit online gaming; however, Mr Wilchcombe said he was “not sure that is absolutely correct”. He advised persons concerned over the legislation to wait until it is released before making assumptions.

Mr Wilchcombe said: “What we have done is we have looked at the way the games exist and what the activity is that takes place in the web shops today, and we have sought to create for an industry regulations that does not in any way destroy the strong and lasting integrity of our country.

“Any matters that would represent or could cause for money laundering or anything of a nefarious nature, we have in our consultation, in our discussions locally and globally, we have sought to move away from that.”

He added: “I’m not sure that we are restricting online transactions, because the competitive nature that takes place within the web shops - online gaming is a part of it. It’s online. I think there is a lot of speculation because this is brand new. We have made a major decision, it has not been easy getting to where we are today.”

Two weeks ago, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson met with members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris to gain insight on whether the proposed web shop regulations would stand up to international scrutiny on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing guidelines.

Her trip followed a report from RBC Bahamas that confirmed the bank was not allowed to do business with web shops regardless of their regulatory status given the sector’s “high risks” and international policy restrictions.

Last week, Mr Wilchcombe said officials were sifting through several documents and reports from the FATF to incorporate the recommendations into the finished gaming legislation.

Yesterday, Mr Wilchcombe said: “We’re moving with haste to get further along, we are near there now. We’ve had incredible discussions, and I feel very good about the level of professionalism not among politicians, but the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Tourism’s legal team and in the Office of the Prime Minister.

“We’ve reached out and talked with the local operators, the hotels, casino operators. We’ve had a tremendous amount of dialogue and there is a level of maturity and professionalism,” he said.

Mr Wilchcombe said his administration accepted the criticism over its decision to transform the “illegal trade” into a regularised legal industry, adding that all efforts were in the best interest of the country and its integrity.

He said that as far as gaming was concerned it was important to ensure there was no conflict between web shops and land-based casinos.

“The (web shops) have been more than helpful in working with us, their legal team has presented their objective positions,” he said.

“We are all at the starting gate and as soon as we complete the constitutional debate and the VAT debate, the next debate will be the gaming legislation.”

Mr Wilchcombe said he believed that when the component of illegality was removed, there would be a greater appreciation for the rule of law in the country, adding that the status quo sent the wrong message to children who witnessed, or engaged in, the unregulated gaming activities.

Comments

B_I_D___ 5 years, 1 month ago

Just too funny...and scary at the same time...you just can't make this stuff up. You are writing legislation to try to legalize an illegal industry...and now you are going to have to write the law in such a way that you do not prohibit one of the main playa's because they have a criminal history. Unreal.

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CANDACESCOTT 5 years, 1 month ago

they are all criminals today according to the law, therefore they are all disqualified! These self-serving people makes no sense!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 1 month ago

This guy Wilchcombe needs to be put behind bars with all the other criminals engaged in supporting the criminal activities of the nefarious racketeering numbers' bosses ...... the numbers' bosses are sharing their proceeds of crime with the likes of Christie, Maynard-Gibson, Wilchcombe and the entire PLP party in exchange for efforts to legalize their criminal activities. Minnis, LTB and the entire FNM party may be in the same corrupt boat given their ominous silence on this issue and refusal to state an unequivocal position on the proposed legalization of the criminal activities of the numbers' bosses!

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proudloudandfnm 5 years, 1 month ago

How much money are we going to spend to give these 8 (or so) guys business licenses? All for 12 million a year? Maybe? Does our government ever actually think? WTH? Allyson could have made a phone call for God's sake... She had to go to Paris to look into this crap?

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

I have no clue who, if any, have criminal records or not, but Comrades, if ever there was a Minister of Her Majesty's Crown predisposed not to see, even the mere thought of a consideration of inviting applicants to do business with "the peoples government," with alleged tainted pasts, as a serious problem, who do you think that Minister is? .Minister is it because when it comes to how damn far you, the PM and your cabinet colleagues are prepared to test the patience of peoples anger buttons, all to "regularize" the numbers rackets for selective few you guys have no limits? Minister have you, the PM and your cabinet colleagues not thought of a different line of work, cause these taxpayers jobs just ain't working out well for you fellows?

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jackbnimble 5 years, 1 month ago

No surprise here. Remember this all started because the proceeds of the crime were used to fund an election campaign. Remember we have a debt to pay. Stem cell done straight. The other big fish -web shops - is next and we ga get them straight come hell or high water.

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B_I_D___ 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm thinking that the VAT must be both the hell and the high water!!

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

Comrades not only did the PLP run a horse in the referendum race but here we are on July 27, 2014 - and hay and oats is still being fed to they numbers rackets horse.

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sheeprunner12 5 years, 1 month ago

Legalizing webshops and implementing VAT will kill the PLP ............ so Obie, go for it!!!!!!

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Thinker 5 years, 1 month ago

Doesn't matter. You think FNM will save the day? LOL... Both parties get what they want and blame each other for the unrest of the People. Once they get into the businesses' books, they are on their way into everyone's paychecks. Thieves, mafioso!

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Thinker 5 years, 1 month ago

Actually this country started going down when it allowed the drug trade to be its momentary Savior. The long term effects of this are evident. And the acceptance of this two party bs system that people think are on their side. Wake up everyone. They don't want You to be an Individual.

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croberts6969 5 years, 1 month ago

Dey all criminals as what they have been doing for years is a crime.

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afficianado 5 years, 1 month ago

Mr Wilchcombe said: “What we have done is we have looked at the way the games exist and what the activity is that takes place in the web shops today, and we have sought to create for an industry regulations that does not in any way destroy the strong and lasting integrity of our country.

Well I beg to differ because the Bahamas' integrity has been diminished a long time ago. I'm a citizen of a country that promotes academic dishonesty at the "University of the Bahamas",encourages illegal activities such as gambling and a plethora of other issues. It's actually depressing reading the news knowing that the government of the Bahamas lacks integrity, vision and ingenuity. The majority of the politicians are old and expired and they can't think outside of the box, which is probably why the Bahamas spends an enormous amount of money on consultants.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 1 month ago

Yay Bahamas! The place where every criminal can succeed. We dive for the bottom feeders every time

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akbar 5 years, 1 month ago

And it just doesn't stop it keeps going and going!

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asiseeit 5 years, 1 month ago

This is the Bahamas, anything goes! In this country we glorify criminals and even turn a blind eye to criminal acts. Just watch this government is going to reward a person who has broken many of our laws over many years soon directly. And these super smart guys wonder why we have a crime problem. Suck teeth!

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Thinker 5 years, 1 month ago

And we allow these governments to stay in Power! Who is to blame here?!?

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licks2 5 years, 1 month ago

Them dudes them cant help theyself. . .the PLP seems to be the biggets criminal enterprise in this nation. . .all mixed up in curruption and deft to the cries of the people them!!! Firts the referendum anad now giving licence to known criminals they!! THIS GOVERNMENT WILL NOT MAKE IT TO 2016 AT THE PACE OF STUPIDITY THEY ARE GOING AT!!! THEY WILL GO THE WAY OF THE HI BIRD. . .CLEAN SWEEP!!!!

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Thinker 5 years, 1 month ago

Doesn't matter. Taxes coming out of your pocket whether it's PLP or FNM or DNA. They INSIST.

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proudloudandfnm 5 years, 1 month ago

Now how in the hell will the Bahamas government assure all the international entities that the money laundering is under control in the Bahamas?!?!? Something tells me the web shop boys aint gonna see a license anytime s oon....

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