AG: Our records do not reflect what French claim
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday The Bahamas is ‘very close’ to existing the Financial Action Task Force’s ‘gray list’ of countries with deficiencies in their anti-money laundering (AML) and counter terrorist financing (CFT) regimes.
Bethel also addressed the issue of this nation being blacklisted by France during his contribution in the Senate.
He insisted the country was full compliant with every request, according to his office’s records.
The French blacklisting concerns the tax information exchange agreement between the two countries, and the perception by the French authorities that the Bahamas has not been responding to requests for information in a manner that is satisfactory to them.
French Public Accounts Minister Gerald Darmanin made the announcement regarding the blacklisting on Sunday, with Anguilla, Virgin Islands, Bahamas and Seychelles also being added to its blacklist.
Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest on Wednesday slammed the move as ‘disrespectful’ during an address in Parliament.
Yesterday, Bethel said: “With regard to that it has been an unfortunate circumstance that we were somewhat blindsided by the French government in a blacklisting if you will.
“European countries in their involvement with European Union and being a part of this mega state union if you will have always reserved rights peculiar to each country. They have the right to determine their own tax structure the right to take counter measures about any country that may be a threat to them.
Bethel continued: “Each individual European country has a right to do this even though the Europeans are currently working on their own version of a blacklist.”
“We are very close to exiting that whole gray listing process with Financial Action Task Force. I have reason to be very hopeful that the Bahamas will very soon be off any kind of FATF listing.
“With that being said there is still much work to do in that regard. That the French government deemed this step necessary I think we have to accept that they are under pressure from their parliamentarians and sometimes countries that have these issues have to find someone to strike out at.
He said: “Whatever may be the alleged deficiencies I can assure the Bahamian public that the most stringent assessments are being conducted to determine exactly what the facts are in the Ministry of Finance and in my office.
“As far as we are aware our cooperation in the Office of the Attorney General extends to certain mutual legal assistance matters and we are confident that we are doing our best. The government will find out exactly what are the deficiencies and I can assure the Bahamian people it will be remedied if in fact it exits.”
The Attorney General said a thorough review of all correspondences between the competent authorities is being undertaken.
“According to our records The Bahamas is fully compliant with every request,” Bethel said.
He added: “As far as the AG’s office, our files do not reflect what the French document shows at all.”