A Cabinet team is to supervise the island’s efforts to combat money-laundering and terrorist financing, which are to be comprehensively evaluated in the spring of 2018, according to David Burt.
While the island already had an effective regime in place, the Premier and Minister of Finance said the assessment by under the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force — subject to review and approval by the Financial Action Task Force — was critically important to the island’s economic future.
The evaluation will involve more than a dozen government entities, along with the private sector.
“I cannot emphasise too strongly to everyone on our island the necessity for Bermuda to pass this international examination,” Mr Burt said.
The Premier said he now chairs a committee to lead the effort, which includes Kathy Lightbourne-Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs; Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs; Jamahl Simmons, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, and Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security.
While the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee advises the Government, Mr Burt said its efforts required the direct involvement of Cabinet.
“Although Bermuda already has a comprehensive legislative framework that has been developed and updated over many years, the complexity of the standards against which we are being evaluated mean that there are still some outstanding legislative initiatives that much be progressed,” Mr Burt said.
“This is one of the very significant reasons we will be recalling Parliament in early September — to address these and other important matters.”
The Premier stressed that “we will pass the muster”, adding: “When the assessors come, they will have nothing but good things to say about Bermuda.”
The National Anti-Money Laundering Committee was established in 1997 under the Proceeds of Crime Act, but the island’s regime has been constantly updated over the 20 years since. Its chairwoman, Cheryl-Ann Lister, warned that while there was no “perfect save” for a jurisdiction to eliminate laundering entirely, “we do have stringent requirements in place to ensure it is kept to a minimum”.
The assessment will focus on institutions such as banks and investment companies, as well as dealers in high value goods such as jewellery and real estate, in a “multi-industry, multi-sector” evaluation, she said.
• To read Mr Burt’s remarks in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”