By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamas has been urged to “prioritise” escaping the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) monitoring list as all its recent woes “flow” from this.
Emmanuel Komolafe, a compliance expert, told Tribune Business that the European Union’s (EU) recent listing of this jurisdiction as posing “a high risk” for financial crime, together with previous US and UK government advisories, all stemmed from the FATF’s assessment that The Bahamas has “strategic deficiencies” in its regulatory regime.
“The main thing we should be focusing on is that FATF list because everything flows from that,” he said. “That should be the focus and the priority; getting off that FATF list. It’s unfortunate that everything we’ve done, which the regional CFATF has recognised and acknowledged, has not been recognised by the EU and others.
“Speaking to persons in the industry, there’s a consensus in that regard, as everything seems to be flowing from that.”
He spoke out after the FATF, the global standard setter in the fight against anti-money laundering and counter terror financing (AML/CFT), gave somewhat grudging recognition of The Bahamas’ progress in addressing these weaknesses.
While giving this nation credit for passing the Register of Beneficial Ownership Bill and introducing “codes of practice” for various professions, the FATF then merely proceeded to re-list the seven areas where it wanted to see The Bahamas make progress.
“Since October 2018, when The Bahamas made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and CFATF to strengthen the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime and address any related technical deficiencies, The Bahamas has taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including by enacting the Beneficial Ownership Law and issuing codes of practice for lawyers, accountants, and the real estate sector,” it said.
Carl Bethel QC, the attorney general, said of the latest FATF assessment: “I think that’s as about as much as we could get out of them. I would take that as an acknowledgement of progress that we’ve made, and an indication of a couple of areas where we should have more improvement, but at least we’re on the road to getting this thing resolved.”
He added that addressing FATF-related issues had been a concern for the Minnis administration since it was elected, as indicated by all the legislation passed by Parliament.