Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Senator the Hon. Carl W. Bethel explained that early in 2020, the Financial Action Task Force agreed to an onsite review of The Bahamas’ Money Laundering/Combatting the Financing of Terrorism/Countering Financing of Proliferation Regimes to verify the progress to address the Action Items agreed in September 2018 with the FATF International Cooperation Review Group of the Americas (ICRG).
This move was a result of The Bahamas being put on the FATF’s Grey List of countries with strategic deficiencies in June 2017 due to the adverse Mutual Evaluation by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (“CFATF”) which was completed in 2015, the Attorney General stated in his remarks at the modified ceremony (due to the pandemic) to mark the beginning of the 2021 Legal Year at Rawson Square on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.
He said the ICRG conducted the onsite review on 10 th and 11 th November 2020, and the report was circulated to the FATF global network for comments. There were no objections from the FATF Global Network.
“Accordingly, on 11th December 2020, the FATF issued its recommendation that The Bahamas be delisted from its Grey List. On 17th December, 2020, the recommendation was considered and approved by the FATF membership.
“On 18th December 2020, The Bahamas was delisted from the FATF’s Grey List. And, the Press Release advising of The Bahamas delisting was posted to FATF’s website, stating:
‘The Bahamas has strengthened the effectiveness of its AML/CFT system and addressed related technical deficiencies to meet the commitments in its action plan and remedy the strategic deficiencies identified by the FATF in October 2018. The FATF now delists The Bahamas from the list of Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring. The Bahamas is therefore no longer subject to the FATF’s increased monitoring process. The Bahamas will continue to work with CFATF to improve further its AML/CFT regime.’”
The Attorney General stated that based on the FATF Grey List, the European Union (EU) Commission placed The Bahamas on their Black List in May 2020, effective October 2020. He said The Bahamas has completed meetings with several EU countries’ Ministers of Finance and high-level officials. It is the intention that these meetings will:
forge direct bilateral contact with individual countries in Europe, that may not have had traditionally long-standing relationships with The Bahamas,
establish person to person contact with relevant senior technical officials, and
assist in making the case for The Bahamas’ removal from the EU’s blacklist.
The Attorney General noted that with the very able and expert assistance of Her Excellency Maria O’Brien, the Ambassador to Brussels, to-date there have been bi-lateral zoom meetings with Ministers and senior Justice Officials in Germany, Italy, Cyprus, Slovenia, Hungary, Finland, the Czech Republic and The Netherlands. He said, “The EU’s FISMA Directorate sent some concerns with certain aspects of the Register of Beneficial Ownership Act, which have been addressed by an amendment passed in September 2020.
“We have held a further meeting with the Director-General of FISMA, Mr. John Berrigan, early this month, and expect some further consultations at the technical level before the end of this month. Should the same prove satisfactory the EU Commission will then consider whether to de-list The Bahamas from the EU Blacklist.”