Bahamian compliance specialist addresses gambling vulnerability

A BAHAMIAN compliance specialist has educated Jamaican bankers and financial services providers on how to prevent money laundering in the gaming industry.

Cheryl Bazard, for a third year, was invited to present at Jamaica's annual Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/Counter Terrorism Financing (CFT) Conference, hosted by the Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA) in collaboration with the Jamaica Institute of Financial Services (JIFS).

The conference, now in its sixth year, was held under the theme, Compliance: Detect-Arrest-Protect on October 9 - 10, with a post-conference workshop staged on October 11, at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston.

Mrs Bazard spoke on the topic, Gaming - Best AML practices to manage Patron-Related risks, in addition to serving as a chair for all sessions held on day two of the conference.

"The conference was an opportunity to once again join the Caribbean diaspora in the education of the gatekeepers in the AML/CFT arena," said Mrs Bazard, the founding president of the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers (BACO).

Mrs Bazard, an attorney by profession, received "high commendations" from participants. Darlene Jones, the JIFS' executive director, said her presentation was "well received" and "very effective".

Nearly 200 persons participated in the conference, including AML/CFT compliance practitioners from deposit-taking and non-deposit taking financial institutions; attorneys; auditors from the local and regional financial sectors; real estate practitioners; gaming industry executives; accountants; and regulators.

The Bahamas' first ICA specialist, certified in money laundering risks in betting and gaming, Mrs Bazard said the sector's size, number of participants and transaction volumes all created potential money laundering risks.

The gaming industry has also undergone significant change through the growth of online and mobile channels, which has added to the challenges facing sector regulators.

In a typical money laundering scheme, the proceeds of crime are taken to casinos as cash. Cash is exchanged for gambling chips at the tables. Some chips are taken to the cashier and exchanged for a cheque marked 'winnings' or transferred to a bank account, which is then considered legitimate income. Other chips could become underworld currency to pay debts and buy drugs.

Mrs Bazard added that online gaming provides an easy way for criminals to launder money.

This typically involves the opening of numerous accounts on various online games to move money around.

The former Senator told attendees to watch for patrons who depart from regular play patterns; require multiple destinations for funds; request multiple monetary instruments for win payout; and generally structure transactions to avoid reporting requirements.

"A good compliance programme protects the reputation of the gaming institution. It ensures compliance with statutes, regulations and policies," Mrs Bazard told the conference.

"It promotes safe and sound business practices, and protects the gaming institution and the country from becoming victims of illegal activities."

Mrs Bazard will next speak at the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants' (BICA) corporate governance seminar on today.


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