**Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, M.P.
Minister of Financial Services and Investments**
Calling on regional and local participants to recommit themselves to the role of the compliance officer, Minister Maynard-Gibson addressed a luncheon meeting during the recent Caribbean Regional Compliance conference at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. The event was hosted by the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers (BACO).
Referencing international developments in the past three years, the Minister said The Bahamas in its own attempt to address the challenges launched a five-year strategy for financial services. This strategy, she said, set out 10 points that were largely a response to the international threats. In her luncheon remarks to the Compliance Officers, Minister Maynard-Gibson took the opportunity to highlight three of the ten points:
· *replacing red tape with red carpet*;
· *creating a productive private sector public sector partnership*; and
· *jurisdictional promotion*
Reportedly, the first point involves a commitment by The Bahamas to promote efficiency, equity and growth, while minimising bureaucracy and red tape for those who must deal with government agencies.
*”This decision recognises that financial services is a competitive business and that we must find ways to achieve the desired end: the prevention and detection of money laundering and the exercise of adequate oversight of our financial sector, while keeping our doors open for business.”* said the Minister.
** Private/Public Sector Partnership**
Point two challenges all stakeholders in the industry to rebuild environments that are conducive to constructive public/private sector dialogue.
*”The productive energy required to seek out better ways of achieving our stated goals, of cutting the red tape, and in fact the refinement of the goals themselves, can only occur in an environment where trust exists.”*
Promotion of the environment allows trading partners to know that a jurisdiction imposes and implements standards accepted by their supervising agencies.
Compliance Officers were encouraged to extend the promotional efforts of the region by taking a proactive role in providing information on its anti-money laundering regimes and by highlighting the standards and the enforcement provisions in place.
*”You are the gatekeepers of the sector and it is through your efforts that we will build strong relationships with relevant international bodies and pursue public relations and communication with influential groupings and key decision makers. It is your efforts that will facilitate early recognition and appropriate action on relevant multi-national and governmental developments, and the maintenance of open communication lines with other similarly situated financial centres.”*
**Role of Compliance Officers**
Compliance officers are seen to have a vital role to play in creating the right environment through their demonstration of a personal commitment to the reputation of their institutions and jurisdiction. Thus, by seeking to enhance the role of compliance and thereby enhancing the integrity of and public trust in the Financial Services Industry, Compliance Officers play an integral part in the continued success of financial centres.
This first regional conference was structured to give participants the opportunity to discuss the required best practices relevant to the financial services sector; to provide participants with information to assist with the implementation and maintenance of compliance and anti-money laundering programmes; and to promote sound compliance standards and good governance.
Participating compliance officers from around the region were challenged by Minister Maynard-Gibson to “take up the job of mapping together standards that are relevant to our sector and our economies”, and to have frank, open and detailed discussion on the current implementation of standards to which the region is committed already, in order to constantly refine the process. Additionally, officers were asked to identify those standards that are changing elsewhere and anticipate their impact on regional jurisdictions.
This approach, she said, would demonstrate that the region has taken a thoughtful and considered approach as international financial centres – *”that we can indeed be relied upon to protect and defend the portals of the financial systems for which we are responsible and can sit as joint stakeholders in the global fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”*
The Minister concluded with the commitment that The Bahamas stands ready to work with its regional partners to defend and grow the financial services sector — a sector that now relies on a fully operational compliance function.
Topics covered during the two-day conference included “Global Threats of Terrorism and Money Laundering”, the “Caribbean Financial Action Task Force”; “Dealing With The Revised FATF 40 & Terrorist Financing”; and “New AML Technology and Services”.
Also discussed was the creation of a Regional Association of Compliance Officers, conceivably to provide the framework to support a regional compliance approach for domestic and international clientele.