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AML coordinator: Bahamas will seek to implement all FATF recommendations

Published: Oct 30, 2013

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National coordinator for the country’s National Anti-Money Laundering Taskforce, Stephen Thompson, has stated that while jurisdictions have at their disposal the opportunity to choose not to comply with all 40 recommendations arising from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) relating to financial crime prevention, The Bahamas will aim to implement all of these recommendations.

Commenting in the wake of claims from delegates at the Caribbean Gaming Forum, such as The Sports Network CEO Mickey Charles, who suggested that increased anti-money laundering (AML) measures could reduce the competitiveness of Caribbean gambling destinations such as The Bahamas, as they inconvenience gamblers in ways they are not inconvenienced in places like Las Vegas, Thompson said that while he understands Charles’ point “from a business standpoint” he does not agree with his suggestion that The Bahamas should flout demands to comply with such recommendations that now emanate from international bodies such as FATF.

“Compliance with international AML standards is an imperative or there will be dire consequences,” said Thompson yesterday.

He addressed delegates at the Caribbean Gaming Forum on Monday, where he discussed the upcoming mutual evaluation of Caribbean countries as part of the fourth round of such reviews by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.

He said the latest round of reviews, which look at a country’s compliance with recommendations made by the FATF, will be the most “thorough” yet and will look not only at what laws are on the books, but how effective and enforced they are.

Thompson said that within the next six to 12 months The Bahamas must conduct a national risk assessment review to determine which sectors or activities pose a threat for money laundering or terrorist financing, and this will set the stage for the fourth round evaluation.

He admitted that the numbers sector must be a part of this review, and added that the regulation of such a sector that generates millions of dollars may be “the only responsible thing to do”.

“Obviously the activities of the 'numbers' sector will be subject to review.  Once it has been determined which sectors are vulnerable to these risks, adequate measures must be put in place to mitigate and/or manage these risks.”

Thompson said yesterday that this risk assessment will involve conducting a review of how the numbers industry operates, and bringing in representatives from the governing bodies of the financial services sector, for example the Bahamas Financial Services Board, the Bahamas Bar Association, the Bahamas Real Estate Association and the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants for consultations.

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