(Royal Gazette) -- Extra safeguards to protect Bermuda from money laundering and terrorist funding are expected to help the island pass an international audit next month, senators heard.
The island’s anti-crime standards will be scrutinised by the Financial Action Task Force in a two-week evaluation scheduled to start on September 24.
Members of Parliament last week approved a series of changes to laws designed to address matters “pertinent to Bermuda’s compliance with international standards” and the amendments were yesterday backed by the Senate.
Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, said at the Senate on Monday: “The amendments contained in this sweep of bills are all geared to support the continued enhancement of Bermuda’s AML/ATF regime.
“Therefore the improvements brought about by these amendments will benefit Bermuda’s updated submissions to the assessment team before they arrive in September, 2018.”
She added the changes will also “bolster” Bermuda’s compliance with the international anti-money laundering and antiterrorist financing regime standards set by FATF.
The amendments related to proceeds of crime and charities as well as banks and the accountancy profession.
Ms Simmons said the Bills amended an “extensive list of laws”, and demonstrated “how entrenched the AML/ATF framework is within our wider body of regulatory laws”.
She told senators: “This reflects Bermuda’s commitment to having a cohesive programme for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, which incorporates all relevant stakeholders.
“These amendments will continue to strengthen the respective powers and responsibilities of competent authorities and clarify the obligations of other stakeholders within the regime.”
She added: “As part of our ongoing efforts to enhance Bermuda’s compliance with FATF standards on combating money laundering and terrorist financing, these bills seek to achieve a number of important objectives, chief among which is to maintain Bermuda’s reputation as a premier international financial centre with a robust and effective regulatory framework.”
Among the measures is the possibility of “more targeted and appropriate” enforcement action and that key players and employees of “regulatory entities” meet fit and proper person tests.
Ms Simmons said that meant ”that they have been vetted to ensure that they have no criminal background and are otherwise fit and appropriate for the roles they will play in the system”.
The regulations were also designed to make sure that reporting of suspicious financial activity will be carried out quickly and that the obligation to do will apply even if the transactions are attempted but not completed.
Justin Mathias, a One Bermuda Alliance senator, supported the Government.
He said: “It’s critical for us to get this right for this review that we’re going to have in September and it doesn’t make sense to labour the issue because ... we are coming to summer recess.”
He added: “We hope that everything goes smoothly in September and we come out of that review just the way that we went into it.”
Leah Scott, the deputy Opposition leader, claimed in the House of Assembly last week that the legislation was “just a continuation of regulations and impositions being imposed on us by jurisdictions that don’t follow the same rules”.
Ms Scott warned: “If we continue to comply with all of the things that they’re imposing on us, businesses are going to leave, there’s not going to be any reason for them to stay in this jurisdiction and we wonder whether the goal, from the EU and the US, is to put the jurisdictions out of business.”