Bahamas' financial services sector 'world class' ahead of FATF assessment

By KEILE CAMPBELL

kcampbell@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Philip Davis trumpeted The Bahamas’ “world-class” financial services sector as the country prepares for another mutual evaluation assessment by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “on the horizon”.

The prime minister delivered remarks at the Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) Forum 2024 hosted by the Ministry of Finance’s Financial Intelligence Unit where he spoke up about the country’s ability to maintain being in full compliance with “the most stringent” standards set by financial regulators.

He also said that it is equally important to continuously review, update, and strengthen our anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and policies in order to stay ahead of “nimble” regulators.

“Having established ourselves as world leaders in compliance will further amplify our voices when it comes to calling for reforms. This is especially helpful in instances where we are calling for a halt to the unfair and discriminatory standards applied to nations like ours while others are measured by different standards,” Mr Davis said.

“I have repeatedly decried this hypocrisy internationally and we have joined other nations in calling for a change that has now led to international standards now being increasingly and rightfully placed in the hands of the UN rather than the EU or the OECD.”

He clarified that The Bahamas' commitment to compliance does not indicate that his call for a change in the financial regulation regime is not motivated by unwillingness, but by “a desire for fairness, reasonableness, and equality among jurisdictions”, condemning the “bully-style tactics” of financial regulators.

He mentioned The Bahamas being the sixth country in the world to become largely compliant with all of the FATF’s 40 recommendations as an accomplishment for the nation’s financial services sector, adding that The Bahamas has an obligation to maintain set standards being a member state of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.

“This is great progress brought about by a nation which, despite its small size, despite its developing nation status, and despite not having the influence of larger, wealthier nations, continues to set the standard and adapts to retain our place atop the global financial services ladder,” the prime minister said.

“I believe one of our richest assets is our people. We have arguably the most financial services talent per capita in the world. I tip my hat to all of the financial services professionals who have a hand in keeping the sector going strong.”