Govt. to pursue more financial criminal matters

NASSAU, BAHMAS – The government plans to clamp down on more criminal financial cases following criticisms by the Foreign Account Task Compliance Act (FATCA) that too many cases went unpursued, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest told Eyewitness News Online.

“One of the criticisms that we’ve had is that we have not had enough prosecutions according to whatever statistics that the FATCA has been looking at,” the minister said.

Turnquest said despite FATCA’s assessment, the government has been addressing such cases.

“We have not been able to demonstrate that we have in fact had prosecutions for money laundering activities,” he said.

“We have had effective investigations that were fully vetted and closed with some action that have been taken and there is a number of prosecutions that have happened and a number of penalties and remedies that have been instituted in others, [and] some have been administratively disposed of because there was no substance behind them.”

However, the finance minister did acknowledge that there is more that the government can do.

To that end, Turnquest said that government will implement of new software.

“What they are doing is implementing a new software system that will track suspicious transactions reports from the time they’re reported to the police department for investigation to the receiving of the information back to the FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit); the disposal of the case and feedback to the reporting officer so that the full loop is closed,” he said.

“We will also be able to document the number of reports we have and how they were disposed of, and the ones that have gone to prosecution, so we can demonstrate and document to all these accessors that we are in fact being effective in our oversight of jurisdiction on money laundering.”

According to Turnquest this was one of the biggest issues during the ministry’s evaluation last September.

Additionally, he said the ministry is going to shore up the FIU.

“It has been one of those agencies put away in the corner and forgotten about and we’re bringing it forward to ensure that it gets the resources that it needs; that it get the technical tools that it needs, and that it has the training that they need and exposure to other FIUs in the region as well as abroad so that we are operating on par with any FIU in the world.”