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A Review Of 2001 By The Bahamas Financial Services Board

Tax-News.com, London

27 December 2001


Looking back on a turbulent but, for the Bahamas, ultimately successful year, Wendy C. Warren, CEO & Executive Director of the Bahamas Financial Services Board, had this to say about the Bahamas' progress:

' Money laundering is a global problem, not one restricted to offshore centres. We recognise that we operate in a globally integrated market for financial services and, it must be emphasised that the sole interest of The Bahamas is legitimate international business. As a result, our counter-money laundering legislation is as advanced as any OECD country and, in some cases, more advanced. In fact, counter money laundering vigilance and measures have been a priority in The Bahamas for a number of years and received additional attention in the past year when the government passed new legislative initiatives to ensure all financial institutions are, by law, required to "know-their-customers" and to report any suspicious transactions.

'Further, two years ago, the Government ceased issuing licenses for managed banks. It now insists that all of these institutions maintain adequate corporate governance in The Bahamas itself and that books and records are kept in the country, ensuring full accountability to KYC requirements. The establishment of the Financial Intelligence Unit, an administrative body that became the 54th member of the Egmont Group, and the International Legal Cooperation Unit in the Attorney General's office, serve to facilitate effective implementation of the new legislation.

'In late September the government also promulgated the International Obligations (Afghanistan) Order 2001 which, among other measures, prohibits any person dealing with any property, and any financial institution licensed in The Bahamas from transacting business with Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda organization, or any individuals associated with them. The Bahamas was one of the first countries to respond.

'The Bahamas will continue to co-operate with all who seek to fight money laundering, fraud, international terrorism and other serious crimes. At the same time, this does not diminish the fundamental fact that The Bahamas is wedded to the belief that law-abiding persons and entities have a right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to the conduct of their affairs. This position is not unique to The Bahamas as many countries including the UK, the United States, Austria and Canada recognise and enforce respect for financial privacy.

'The Bahamas will stay at the forefront of this increasingly competitive global environment for the conduct of international financial services business by keeping pace with evolving trends. This is consistent with our historic views and legislative actions with respect to criminal activities and counter money laundering and our determination to be recognised for our professionalism and attraction of sound, legitimate business.'


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