NASSAU, Bahamas, Feb 14, CMC – The Bahamas government says it regrets the decision of the European Union College of Commissioners to include the country in a list of high risk third countries for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (AML/CFT) deficiencies.
“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,’ said Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Carl W. Bethel.
He said the listing of the Bahamas is linked to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan and to the adverse Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Mutual Evaluation Report of the Nation’s AML/CFT framework, in May of 2017.
“It is allegedly based upon a perception that the listed countries pose a “threat” to the EU Financial system,” the Attorney General said, adding that Nassau “observes that this listing by the EU Commissioners is apparently based on the FATF’s listing of The Bahamas and its placement of The Bahamas into an Action Plan”.
He said in the circumstances where the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country has, since the implementation of the FATF Action Plan in October, 2018, been re-evaluated as being “Compliant or Largely 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”.
Bethel said that the principle of proportionality is a fundamental tenet of EU Law and the common law and “it simply imports that the punishment should fit the offence.
“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.
“Such a “one size fits all” approach is unworthy of established Democracies, and is an affront to their own legal principles,” Bethel added.
Caribbean countries have in the past been critical of the criteria used by the EU to blacklist them as tax havens.
Meanwhile, the United States has also criticised the EU listing.
“Beyond our concerns with the listing methodology, the Treasury Department rejects the inclusion of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands on the list. The commitments and actions of the United States in implementing the FATF standards extend to all U.S. territories.
“The same AML/CFT legal framework that applies to the continental United States also generally applies to U.S. territories. Moreover, the Treasury Department was not provided any meaningful opportunity to discuss with the European Commission its basis for including the listed U.S. territories.
“The Treasury Department does not expect U.S financial institutions to take the European Commission’s list into account in their AML/CFT policies and procedures.”