McCartney: Bahamas ‘ought not to have been listed’ on EU’s AML/CFT list

Tanya McCartney.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Financial Services sector and the government are on one accord in calling a move ‘not proportionate’ when the European Commission listed The Bahamas among jurisdictions considered deficient in Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terror (AML/CFT).

The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) CEO Tanya McCartney yesterday assured that the industry remained committed to the highest possible standards of global regulatory compliance, despite this listing.

“We stand ready to assist the government and will continue to collaborate to ensure that The Bahamas is recognized as the responsible international Financial Centre that it is,” McCartney said.  “BFSB, as an industry stakeholder, endorses and agrees with the sentiments expressed by our government and the statement made by the U.S. Treasury Department.”

Her comments were in reference to a statement issued by the Attorney General’s office yesterday that this most recent listing was based on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) listing of The Bahamas and its earlier placement of this country into an Action Plan, subsequently being reevaluated as compliant with 30 of the FATF’s 40 recommendations.

“It is the view of The Bahamas that the listing by the College of Commissioners of the European Union is not a proportionate response… the punishment should fit the offence,” read a statement by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Carl Bethel.

“Such a ‘one size fits all’ approach is unworthy of established democracies, and is an affront to their own legal principles,” Bethel said.  “The Bahamas ought not to have been listed and regrets this action by the EU College of Commissioners. We will seek all ways to ameliorate and, if possible, encourage the EU Commissioners to reverse their decision.”

The swift response came yesterday after the EU Commissioner placed The Bahamas on a list of third countries representing a risk to the international financial system and is presumed to represent a threat to the EU internal market.

However, industry insiders yesterday expressed concern that this was once again another example of continued bullying of a small country by a block of bigger nations.

The listing caught many by surprise as it countered the country’s recent compliant categorization by the EU Commission.

“To list a country, such as The Bahamas, that has made outstanding progress, in just over one year, in addressing the AML/CFT deficiencies identified in May 2017, together with wholly non-compliant, war-torn or even rogue States is disproportionate, and inflicts harm and punishment on a People with no regard for their important reforms and improvements in their AML/CFT framework,” said the statement from Bethel.

On that list yesterday was also the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa. The U.S. Treasury Department yesterday said it was concerned with the “substance of the list and the flawed process by which it was developed.”

The Treasury Department then listed several concerns it had with the listing methodology of the EU Commissioner and said it “rejected” the inclusion of its territories as there was no meaningful opportunity to discuss the basis for this listing.