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Bahamas: Proceeds Of Crime Act 2000 Hits Debating Table

Mandy Robinson,, London

22 December 2000

The Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert A Ingraham opened debate on a Bill for a new Proceeds of Crime Act 2000 which will focus particularly on the offences of drug trafficking and money laundering.

In an address to the House of Assembly this month, the Prime Minister explained that the new law will allow the police authority to apply to a Judge in Chambers for a Monitoring Order which obligates a bank or trust company to provide information with regard to transactions undertaken by an account holder who is suspected of committing or being about to commit an offence.

Mr Ingraham said: 'A judge may grant such an Order if he/she is satisfied by evidence given on oath. A Monitoring Order must specify the name/names in which accounts are believed to be held, the nature and intent of the information which the bank/trust company is required to give and the manner in which the information is to be given. A Monitoring Order may be granted notwithstanding the provisions of our banking confidentiality laws. Failure to comply with a Monitoring Order carries a like penalty as failure to comply with a Production Order, i.e. $25,000 or three years in prison.'

Under the Bill, an individual is guilty of money laundering if he/she is found to have concealed or disguised the transaction of delivering or transfering to another person, place or property the proceeds of any criminal behaviour. The Prime Minister stated: 'For the purposes of this Act, concealing or disguising includes concealing or disguising the nature, source, location, disposition, movement, ownership or any rights with respect to ownership of property.'

The punishment for a person found guilty by a Stipendiary and Circuit Magistrate of money laundering can amount to imprisonment of five years and a fine of $100,000 or both. If convicted before the Supreme Court the guilty party can expect up to twenty years' imprisonment and a fine of any figure at the Judge's discretion. Mr Ingraham added: 'This Bill makes it an offence to facilitate another in concealing, retaining or controlling the proceeds of criminal conduct. This is so whether the concealment is by removal of the proceeds from the Bahamas, transfer to nominees or otherwise.' At the point of conviction, all monies derived from money laundering will be forfeited to the Crown.

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2000 is the latest in a long line of legislation either new or revised that has been implemented by the Bahamas government since June 2000 when the jurisdiction was blacklisted as a 'harmful' tax regime by the OECD and deemed by the FATF to be uncooperative in the international fight against money laundering.

In his address Mr Ingraham stated: 'We are especially concerned to remove any merit which might be ascribed to criticism of the adequacy of our anti-money laundering processes. We have concentrated attention, therefore, on bolstering our financial institutions; safeguarding their use; and strengthening their regulation and supervision so as to minimize, if not eradicate, their abuse for illicit purposes.'

This he certainly has done; to date the new and improved Bahamas legislative framework includes:

  • Money Laundering (Proceeds of Crime) (Amendment) Act 2000
  • Evidence (Proceedings in other Jurisdictions) Act 2000
  • Evidence (Proceedings in other Jurisdictions) (Amendment) Act 2000

The following Bills have completed their second reading

  • The Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act 2000
  • The Financial Intelligence Unit Act 2000
  • The Central Bank of The Bahamas Act 2000
  • The Banks and Trust Companies Regulation Act 2000
  • The Financial Transactions Reporting Act 2000
  • The Dangerous Drugs Act 2000

Bills yet to be tabled are:

  • The International Business Companies Act 2000
  • The Corporate Services Providers Act
  • The Mutual Legal Assistance (Amendment) Act
  • The Prevention of Bribery Act (Amendment)


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