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A/G Bethel

Attorney General and Minister of Justice kh&i4ew. Carl W. Bethel, was elected Deputy Chairman of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) at its meeting in the Dominican Republic on October 11, 2001.


In his acceptance speech, Mr. Bethel pledged that the Bahamas will continue its

efforts to fight the plague of money laundering, and is committed to assist all CFATF

members in implementing internationally accepted anti-money laundering regimes.

He also promised to seek to expand the outreach of CFATF to all countries in the

Caribbean, and to seek heightened recognition of CFATF's vital role by the CAFdC0M

Secretary and member states.

"I look forward, in particular, to working with those territories that still appear on

the FATF list as non-cooperative territories," Mr. Bethel said.

Noting that The Bahamas has been an active member of CFATF since its

inception, Mr. Bethel said after being placed on the FATF list of non-cooperative

countries and going through the process of being removed from the list in June, 2001,

The Bahamas will take an even more active role in the affWrs of CFATF.

"This commitment arises from the realization of the fact that the CFATF provides

an invaluable process allowing for peer review, mutual evaluations, and moral suasion

among partners and neighbors in our diverse Caribbean region," Mr. Bethel said.

He said the CFAFT provides a mechanism founded upon mutual assistance towards the attainment of agreed standards among equals, based upon mutual respect and a collective intention to prevent abuse, to stamp out crime, and to deprive criminals of

their ill-gotten gains.

If CFATF members are to avoid the repetition of numerous listings and de-listings,

Mr. Bethel said, they must take seriously the commitments the region made in the

Kingston Declaration to the full implementation of the FATF 40 recommendations and

the CFATF 19 recommendations.

He said reviews of the recent evaluations as well as the ongoing efforts at

implementation by other countries of recommendations made in earlier evaluations,

reveal discouraging lapses, delays, failures to implement ftilly or at ail, and institutional

deficiencies.

"These deficiencies ought to be addressed meaningfully," Mr. Bethel said. "The

FATF 40 and the CFATF 19 recommendations now constitute the international standard to which all ought to adhere.

"No financial service provider can in good faith continue to market itself as 'reputable' while failing to comply with international standards of supervision, regulation and cooperation.

We should strive to attain the standards that will enable us to compete as a region with the rest of the world by providing meaningful value added services, efficiently and in a well-regulated and responsible manner.

"Our ability to do so should be based not only upon the existence of political will, but also upon the meaningful allocation of human and fiscal resources. Merely passing laws without the resources and institutions to implement them is not enough "We 'in The Bahamas are committed to doing everything without power to assist in this process."

To date, said Mr. Bethel, the focus of CFATF has been upon the proceeds of drug trafficking and money laundering offences, with the underlying strategy being to strengthen law enforcement efforts by identifying criminal abuse of financial systems and separating criminals from the ill-gotten proceeds of their crimes.

He said recent tragic events in the United States have dictated the need to expand beyond the focus of CFATF and every regional governing authority beyond the proceeds.

"It is clear that our efforts must be expended in shutting down the flows of any money that is being used as a tool to assist in the connection of crimes, whether that money comes from a 'legal' or 'illicit' source," Mr. Bethel said.

He said terrorism itself ought to receive the same treatment as drug trafficking, with special recognition of the grave peril it poses to the civilized world, on par with drug trafficking.

"The terrorist act ought not to be merely one of the numbers of predicate money laundering offences," said Mr. Bethel- "It must be met with severity; singled out in all its manifestations as an activity repugnant to and inconsistent with civilized behavior, and stamped out."

He said The Bahamas is drafting an Anti-Terrorism Act to define and criminalize terrorism specifically, and to provide special remedies and special powers to law enforcement agencies.

"We are making every effort to expedite this process," Mr., Bethel said.

He said seizure, confiscation and forfeiture laws will also have to be amended to permit the effective disruption of any firm or money that can be shown to have been used as a tool in the commission of terrorism offences, whether to provide food, housing, equipment or training.

 

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