Attorney General Carl Bethel. (File photo)
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel is expected to make recommendations to European finance officials today on the way forward concerning the country’s removal from the European blacklist.
Mr Bethel made the revelation during yesterday’s Senate meeting as he requested for the upper chamber to be adjourned to 11am today instead of its usual 10am start time, due to his scheduled meetings with several European ministers about the nation’s international financial standing.
He said such diplomatic talks will extend into all of next week.
Mr Bethel said yesterday: “I have a series of phone calls with European ministers of finance and other persons involved in order to address with each individual minister starting tomorrow and continuing all of next week to address and put forward the best case for The Bahamas for our removal from the European Union’s blacklist.
“And so, it’s an opportunity for us to begin to establish person to person contact at the ministerial level but also technical officers contact at the technical officers levels with individual companies in Europe that we do not have that sort of close contact with at the present time.”
He added: “Just to make it clear, all of our officials have close contact with countries such as France whether its intense collaboration or cooperation going on right now and we look forward to France having a positive view of The Bahamas in short order hopefully.
“We have very close contact with the UK. We have developing contacts with Italy, Spain and the major powers in Western Europe so this outreach is for a lot of the other ministerial countries where they have no familiarity with the Bahamas so we could go to forge direct bilateral contact.”
In early October, the European Union confirmed The Bahamas’ inclusion on a list of nations deemed to have deficiencies in their anti-financial crime defences, which makes it “high risk”.
In response, The Bahamas’ embassy to the EU said it had “exhausted all diplomatic channels” in trying to persuade an “intransigent” 27-nation bloc not to proceed in naming this nation.
It added that the EU is applying standards more stringent than the FATF, the recognised global authority on anti-money laundering and counter terror financing, for The Bahamas to escape its list.
“The EU Commission in identifying ‘high risk’ third countries employs a two-prong methodology which is firstly premised on countries identified by the FATF and, secondly, countries will be assessed autonomously by the EU,” the Bahamian embassy said.
“Taking into account the employed methodology, The Bahamas by extension was predisposed to its inscription on the list of ‘high-risk third countries’ as a result of the FATF listing. The EU, in its identification process of ‘high-risk third countries’, has also stipulated the format for consideration to be given for a country to be delisted.
“Firstly, a country initially identified by the FATF and having taken the necessary corrective measures is delisted by the FATF. Secondly, the EU will undertake an assessment and confirmation of the information from the FATF, and thirdly, countries assessed autonomously by the EU will undergo three stages of analysis which will include information from the FATF and other sources for delisting to occur.”
“As a nation, The Bahamas must prepare for a strengthened and coordinated EU approach to preventing money laundering and terrorism financing,” the embassy added.