Bahamas: Bahamian Financial Institutions Reviewing Accounts
Last Updated: 14 October 2001

Nassau, The Bahamas … Monitoring of the Bahamas financial sector has been intensified to ensure none of its institutions is being used to fund terrorism activities.

New actions taken include:

  • The signing by the government of the International Obligations (Afghanistan) Act 2001 which among other measures prohibits any person dealing with any property, and any financial institution licensed in The Bahamas from transacting business with Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda organization, or any individuals or entities associated with them.
  • The Central Bank of The Bahamas has instructed all banks and trust companies licensed in The Bahamas to review immediately whether or not they hold accounts beneficially owned or in some way used by organizations or persons suspected and/or reported by the media as being directly or indirectly connected with terrorist activity.

Bahamian Foreign Affairs Minister Janet Bostwick said " The Bahamas is committed to ensuring its financial services sector will not be used to fund terrorists or terrorism."

Echoing her comments, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Carl Bethel said, " We will not flinch nor falter in the effort to prevent the abuse of our financial services system and in eradicating money laundering and other financial crimes."

Under the Central Bank review, banks and trust companies have been asked to consider all client accounts. This process is greatly facilitated by an environment that legislates institutions to not only know-their-customers but to maintain full documentation within their offices.

Counter money laundering vigilance and measures have been a priority in The Bahamas for a number of years and received additional attention in the past year when the government passed new legislative initiatives to ensure all financial institutions are, by law, required to "know-their-customers" and to report any suspicious transactions.

" Money laundering is a global problem, not one that is restricted to offshore centers," said Wendy Warren, CEO and Executive Director of the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB). " We recognize that we operate in a globally integrated market for financial services and our sole interest is legitimate international business. As a result, our counter-money laundering legislation is as advanced as any OECD country."

She added, " While confidentiality is an important aspect of our country, this confidentiality does not extend to those who commit offenses such as bribery and corruption, drug trafficking and other serious crimes."

Under Bahamian law, banks and trust companies must report immediately to the Central Bank of The Bahamas information on any account identified as having any possible link to suspected terrorists or terrorist organizations.

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