The Honourable Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, The Bahamas and Chair of the CFATF and Ms. Daniela Tramacere, Charge d' Affiares, Delegation of the European UnionSenator The Honourable Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, The Bahamas and Chair of the CFATF warmly welcomed Ms. Daniela Tramacere, Chargé d`Affaires, and Ms. Monica Paul-McLean, Programme Officer, Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago, at the CFATF Secretariat.  The meeting  further cemented the strong bonds of friendship and support between two long standing partners in the fight against trans-national organised crime and the financing of terrorism.

The European Union has always been very supportive of efforts to build regional capacity in various areas and the discussions recalled the investment from the European Commission, United Kingdom and the United States during 2000-2006 when significant funds were provided for the important work of the Caribbean Anti-Money Laundering Programme (CALP) with regard to establishing the legislative and institutional framework to combat money laundering in several Caribbean jurisdictions.

Given the CFATF’s desire to be in step with the global drive to take the profit out of crime, Madam Chair Maynard Gibson and Chargé d`Affaires Tramacere explored the progress of the current European Union/CFATF three year Euros 1.2Million project to strengthen regional capacity, through the Accreditation and Training Programme for Financial Investigators, Analysts and Supervisors.

This new initiative is a natural corollary to the CALP as Financial Investigators and Analysts trained by the CALP are now employed as Heads and senior staff of some regional Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) and at other establishments around the Region including the CFATF Secretariat, where the current Law Enforcement Advisor is overseeing the operations of the Heads of FIUs Forum.

Financial investigation and analysis are important law enforcement techniques which can generate intelligence about the activities and patterns of criminal groups and provide added value to criminal investigations.

The CFATF Training and Accreditation Programme will entail the delivery of five (5) training modules for the benefit of 207 Financial Investigators, Financial Analysts and Supervisors at regional FIUs.

The aim of the project which is funded by the European Union, is to improve the quality of financial intelligence and information through effective analysis and data matching, improve the quality in the filing of suspicious transaction reports, encourage the use of financial investigative tools, and enhance the exchange of financial information and intelligence and cooperation, as standard activities in the investigation of serious crimes.

Madam Chair Maynard Gibson noted that the Accreditation and Training Programme is testimony to the political commitment at the highest levels across the Caribbean Basin Region, to take the profit out of crime, by enhancing and strengthening the human and operational capacity of FIUs, which are at the heart of the national Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) architecture in CFATF member jurisdictions.

It was an absolute joy to watch. Mr. Vladimir Nechaev, President of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Mr. Richard Berkhout, Policy Advisor, FATF Secretariat, at home, in beautiful Nassau, The Bahamas, and with particular and enjoyable ease, responding to the hard and persistent questions from Ministers, Attorneys General, senior technical officials and private sector representatives involved in the International Financial Services sector from CFATF Member countries.

All of this under the watchful eye of the Honourable Allyson Maynard Gibson, Attorney General and Chair of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), host of the First CFATF Anti Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Conference which was held in Nassau, The Bahamas during April 2-3 2014.

President Nechaev enjoyed the interaction with the delegates and readily answered the lively questions from delegates. It was clear that this was a man who understood the minutiae of the FATF Recommendations and was willing to share his knowledge and experiences with the region.

The CFATF, just like the FATF and the other FATF Style Regional Bodies, is fully engaged in preparing its Members and the Mutual Evaluation Team at the Secretariat for the onset of the Fourth Round of Assessments which commences in January 2015.

The FATF 2012 Recommendations and the updated assessment Methodology bring with them a much more onerous and resource intensive assessment process in both human and financial terms when compared with the Third Round of Mutual Evaluations.

In light of this and cognizant of the ongoing financial challenges being experienced by the small and developing economies in the region, Madam Chair Maynard Gibson, on assuming leadership of the CFATF, became convinced that a regional conversation on the adoption of a serious approach to, the provision of adequate resources for and buy in at the highest political levels were critical ingredients for success in pursuit of higher levels of compliance with the FATF Recommendations.

For this goal President Nechaev was a worthy and willing ally and so after discussions in late November 2013 on the margins of the CFATF Plenary Meeting, the idea of the First CFATF Regional AML/CFT Conference was conceived, and became a reality with the urgency it deserved, four months thereafter.

For Madam Chair Maynard Gibson this was a very rewarding exercise which continued the tone of her bold and innovative leadership of the CFATF. New initiatives were announced. The Right Honourable Perry Christie, Prime Minister, The Commonwealth of The Bahamas offered to champion the work and achievements of the CFATF with CARICOM Heads of Governments and Regional Institutions as well as on the international stage as its Patron.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister supported her call for at least seventy five (75) percent % compliance at the end of the Fourth Round by all CFATF Members and called for the establishment of the CFATF Council of Elders, “a forum where current and former CFATF Chairmen could meet as circumstances dictate, to review issues facing the organization and its membership, to provide guidance and to undertake strategic intervention to assist in accomplishing CFATF objectives”.

This initiative has reinforced the confidence of FATF President Nechaev in the ability of the CFATF to successfully manage the challenges that lie ahead for its members in addressing the stronger and more demanding assessment structures that are part and parcel of the Fourth Round of Assessments.

The First CFATF Regional AML/CFT Conference led to the issuing of the Nassau Re-Affirmation which recommitted the CFATF to the effective partnership with the international community in the fight against money laundering, the financing of terrorism and proliferation financing.

And in more good news, the First CFATF Regional AML/CFT Conference solidified the close working relationship between the FATF, the standard setter and the CFATF, the first FATF Style Regional Body.

Indeed FATF President Vladimir Nechaev has extended an open invitation to the CFATF to share its experiences in exploiting regional structures to advance its work and any concrete steps that the CFATF could take to finance the Fourth Round of Assessments with Members of the FATF Global Network Coordination Group

The Honorable Allyson Maynard Gibson, Attorney General of The Bahamas in her capacity as Chair of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) called for and undertook a High Level Mission to Guyana on Saturday 28 April 2014. Accompanying her was CFATF Executive Director Mr. Calvin Wilson.

The driving principle for the Mission was a clear belief that there was a personal and corporate obligation to do all that was necessary to alert both the Government and Opposition of Guyana on the serious implications of their inability to pass Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation that was in keeping with the FATF Recommendations, in good time ahead to the next CFATF Plenary Meeting at the end of May 2014. On offer was technical assistance from the CFATF Secretariat and the wider CFATF membership.

The Mutual Evaluation Program is the core work of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and all CFATF Members, as signatories to the CFATF Memorandum of Understanding and by virtue of having signed and ratified the United Nations Vienna, Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions, have agreed to attain the highest levels of compliance with the FATF Recommendations.

The Third Round of CFATF Mutual Evaluations was completed at the end of 2012 and whilst there is good news through the favorable accomplishments of some Members which can be described as Centres of Excellence, institutionally, the average level of compliance by the CFATF membership was a less than satisfactory forty (40) percent. It is therefore imperative that all AML/CFT deficiencies identified in the Third Round Mutual Evaluation Reports must be expeditiously rectified before Member countries commence the Fourth Round.

The Fourth Round of Mutual Evaluations will commence in January 2015 and within the global AML/CFT network, it is accepted that the requirements will be very onerous and will require the commitment of a significant amount of human and financial resources. The collective goal for the CFATF as outlined in Madam Chair Hon. Allyson Maynard Gibson’s Work Programme for 2013-2014, is the need for each CFATF Member to attain at least seventy five (75) percent compliance with the FATF Recommendations during the Fourth Round.

Guyana’s level of compliance with the FATF Recommendations during the Third Round was less than satisfactory and the CFATF as part of its Follow up process had issued two Public Statements due to Guyana’s non responsiveness to the call for urgent reform.

The overall goal of the Mission was to deescalate the tension that existed between the parties so that any ensuing dialogue could occur within an atmosphere which was conducive to seizing the moment, enacting the legislation and averting the economic calamity that would ensue.

From either side of the political divide the response to participating in the CFATF Mission was immediate and positive. The CFATF Team met with His Excellency Donald Ramoutar, President of Guyana and his team of senior Ministers who comprised Attorney General Mr. Anil Nandall, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh, Minister within the Ministry of Finance Mr. Juan Edghill and Ms. Gail Teixeira, Presidential Adviser on Governance.

From the Opposition side the team of CFATF officials met with Leader for the Alliance for Change (AFC) Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, Mrs. Kathy Hughes and Mr. Dominic Gaskin and from the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Vice Chairman Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, Mr. Joseph Harmon, Mr. Carl Greenidge and Mr. Basil Williams, Mr. Ronald Bulkhan, Mr. Winston Felix and Mr. Ernest Elliot.

The CFATF Team also met with members of the Private Sector Commission and CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque.
Madam Chair Maynard Gibson would like to extend her sincerest thanks to all the officials who were available for this twenty four hour visit.

Saving Guyana and Averting a Regional Crisis

CFATF Secretariat- May 1st 2014

The Right Honourable Perry Christie, Prime Minister, The Commonwealth of The BahamasTHE “DEAN OF THE CARIBBEAN” TO BE CFATF PATRON
“I am prepared to assume the role of Patron of the CFATF to champion its work with his colleagues within CARICOM and around the world as well as with regional and international institutions.”

In this spectacular sentence, The Right Honourable Perry Christie, Prime Minister, The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, fondly known as the “Dean of the Caribbean” burnished his credentials as a strong and avid supporter of the Caribbean Basin Region and his country integral position in the Caribbean Community.

Ministers, Attorneys General and senior officials attending the First CFATF Regional Anti Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Conference, were delighted at the announcement, which would give a significantly higher profile to the CFATF and a sustained focus on FATF President Valdimir Nechaev’s assessment that “CFATF is without a doubt one of the best in its class”.

Without hesitation and warming to his responsibilities of CFATF Patron Prime Minister Christie called for the establishment of “the CFATF Council of Elders”, “a forum where current and former CFATF Chairmen could meet as circumstances dictate, to review issues facing the organization and its membership, to provide guidance and to undertake strategic intervention to assist in accomplishing CFATF objectives”

Underscoring the importance of high levels of compliance with the FATF Recommendations to the survival of the International Financial Services sector which plays a dominant role in generating revenues for regional governments, the Right Honourable Prime Minister supported the call by the Honourable Allyson Maynard Gibson, Attorney General, Commonwealth of the Bahamas and Chair of the Caribbean Financial Action task Force, (CFATF) for at least seventy five (75) percent compliance at the end of the Fourth Round of Assessments.

And in doing so, Prime Mister Christie immediately drew attention to the increased level of resources that would be necessary to accomplish this goal and pledged his commitment to bring this issue to his colleagues at Heads of Government level.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister’s offer to assume the role of CFATF Patron and his call for the establishment of the CFATF Council of Elders will have to be considered in due course for adoption by the CFATF Council of Ministers, which based on the enthusiastic response thus far, should be positive.

For the full text of  The Right Honouable Perry Christie, Prime Minister, The Commonwealth of The Bahamas