Bahamas pushes for on-site FATF visit

Bahamas pushes for on-site FATF visit
Attorney General Carl Bethel speaks with members of the press. FILE

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government is pressing the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to agree to hold an on-site visit ahead of its plenary in October, according to Attorney General Carl Bethel.

Bethel explained the plenary is when the FATF will consider whether or not to remove The Bahamas from its list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their response to anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).

He was addressing the Senate as it debated the budget earlier this week.

“The Bahamas was put into the FATF’s gray list of countries with strategic deficiencies in June 2017 due to the adverse Mutual Evaluation by the CFATF which was completed in 2015,” Bethel said.

“We had two years post the 2015 Evaluation to correct the observed deficiencies, but little or nothing was done. It fell upon the FNM to shoulder the load of two years of failure to respond. We did so, and thanks to the efforts of this Government, with the able assistance of all regulatory agencies, and with the full support of the private sector, we have prevailed to the point where, such was our progress, that the FATF agreed to an on-site visit, which is the first step towards exiting from the Gray List. However the pandemic intervened. The on-site which was originally set for April 2020 had to be indefinitely delayed.”

Bethel said: “At the FATF Virtual Plenary held onth June 16, 2020, they agreed to schedule the delayed on-site visit, as soon as European Borders are opened to international travel. We are pressing for the FATF to agree to hold the on-site in time for the FATF to consider whether or not to de-List The Bahamas at its October 2020 Plenary.”

Bethel noted the EU Commission has recently placed The Bahamas on their own Black List due to the FATF Gray List.

“Dialogue at the highest levels is being conducted with the EU, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bahamas Mission to the EU in Brussels, Belgium,” Bethel added.

“There are also developing contacts between OAG and the EC Commission officials, and we hope to have a familiarization visit as soon as travel to and from the EU is permissible. Certainly, nothing can be done on our part until our own Borders are fully open, hopefully in July.”