What's Happening

RF Holdings to accept Digital Currency across Regional Network

RF Holdings Limited has entered into partnership with financial technology company, Bitt to facilitate the acceptance of digital currency transactions across its Caribbean network.

The partnership, which focuses on developing a platform based on Bitt's digital currency infrastructure, will allow for digital currencies, such as 'Sand Dollar' in The Bahamas, 'mMoney' in Barbados, and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank's 'DCash', to be accepted and accessed across the investment banks’ products by a wider network of Caribbean clients. Digital currency is a form of currency that is available only in digital or electronic form, and not in physical form. It is also called digital money, electronic money, electronic currency, or cyber cash.

RF Holdings Limited, which is the parent company to a group of investment banks in The Bahamas, Barbados, and the Cayman Islands, indicated that this latest venture is expected to assist in providing added convenience to clients of the investment bank, and tocreate a more efficient business model. The platform will be able to facilitate payments from and between banks, individual consumers, and merchants.

Read the full article here: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business-observer/rf-holdings-to-accept-digital-currency-across-regional-network_212020?profile=42

The British Virgin Islands publishes its Money Laundering Risk Assessment Report 2020

The British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission (BVIFSC) has published its “Money Laundering Risk Assessment 2020” report on December 10th, 2020. The report presents the findings of sectoral assessments for the period 2015 to 2019 and is a follow-up to the country’s 2016 National Risk Assessment report. Subsequent to the 2016 report, a “Progress Report on the Implementation of the Recommendations from the National Risk Assessment” was also published in 2017 by the Ministry of Finance. The BVI conducted its first national anti-money laundering/ counter terrorist financing (AML/CFT) risk assessment in 2014.

The Acting Managing Director of the BVIFSC, Ms. Jennifer Potter-Questelles noted that the 2020 report “critically reviewed the ML risks posed by each of the sectors under our supervisory remit, against the backdrop of the ML threats to which the Virgin Islands is exposed”. She further explained that the assessment enhanced the ability of regulated entities to identify specific ML risks within their respective sectors. Consequently, the BVIFSC and entities under their purview can employ appropriate measures to effectively mitigate and manage these and other emerging risks.

The full report can be read here.

 

The Bahamas passes Bill in the House of Assembly to Criminalize Financial Schemes

The Financial and Corporate Service Providers (FCSP) Bill 2020 was passed in the House of Assembly of the Bahamas on November 4th, 2020. The Deputy Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Honourable K. Peter Turnquest stated that that the Bill has defined certain financial schemes as illegal. He explained that “these may take the form of pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes and advance-fee schemes, among others, and many of them have plagued unsuspecting Bahamians for generations. Further, these schemes are fundamentally detrimental to investors and the public. The Bill criminalizes the promotion or marketing of these financial schemes and empowers the Securities Commission to dissolve them where circumstances so warrant. It also empowers the Commission to investigate and enforce against persons engaged in financial schemes.”

 Deputy Prime Minister Turnquest stated that the FCSP Bill is designed to give the Securities Commission oversight of non-bank financial services and corporate services to protect these from improper use and abuse. The Bill also makes specific provisions that empower the Securities Commission to take administrative and other actions to protect public interests. Additionally, he pronounced that the Financial and Corporate Service Providers Regulations, 2020 which has been drafted to support The FCSP Bill, expands on some of the standards that must be maintained by licensees.

 The proposed Regulations will place a duty on licensees to uphold the highest standards of professional conduct. Deputy Prime Minister Turnquest noted the protection of clients’ personal data in keeping with the Data Protection (Privacy of Personal Information) Act as well as measures to address the collection, storage and prevention of the unauthorized access to personal data are among the issues that the Regulations will focus on.

 The Honourable Deputy Prime Minister further elaborated that in order to protect the financial industry and the reputation of The Bahamas from the threat of money laundering (ML) and terrorism financing (TF), the FCSP Bill also requires licensees to comply with the Financial Transactions Reporting Act, 2018 and the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2018. Moreover, it will be necessary for licensees to possess sufficient financial resources, be solvent and obtain adequate insurance coverage suitable for their business operations. “These all work to protect investors, both by increasing the likelihood that operators are financially prepared for the activities they will engage in and may add some protective measures for aggrieved consumers” he added.

 

 

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) strengthens Measures related to Domestic Co-operation, and Coordination (R.2) and Prevention of the Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (R.1)

In June 2019, the FATF agreed to pursue further work to strengthen the FATF Standards on countering the financing of proliferation (CFP). Following a public consultation on the draft amendments to Recommendation 1 and its Interpretive Note, the October 2020 FATF Plenary approved revisions to the FATF Recommendations. The revised Recommendation 1 and its Interpretive Note require countries and private sector entities to identify, assess, manage and mitigate the risks of potential breaches, non-implementation, or evasion of the targeted financial sanctions related to proliferation financing (PF).

The FATF also adopted changes to Recommendation 2 and a new Interpretive Note to Recommendation 2 (INR.2), to enhance domestic co-operation, co-ordination and information exchange among national authorities.

The FATF and CFATF Procedures (paragraph 4) require that countries be evaluated on the basis of the FATF Recommendations and Interpretative Notes, and the Methodology as they exist at the time of the country’s on-site visit. However, the FATF Plenary agreed to develop Guidance to assist countries and the private sector in assessing and mitigating the proliferation financing risk and further agreed that the FATF will begin assessing jurisdictions for implementation of these new requirements (related to R.1, INR.1, R.2 and INR. 2) at the start of the next (fifth) round of mutual evaluations, to allow time to put the necessary measures in place.

The full public statement can be read here.

 

Grenada Commits to Developing Models on Anti-Corruption Practices

The Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. The Honourable Keith Mitchell stated that the country would adopt governance models to ensure anti-corruption practices. The statement was made while addressing the fourth annual “Centre for Excellence Series Senior Leadership and Management Regional Training Programme”, which was organised by the Office of the Integrity Commission in Grenada.  

The Honourable Prime Minister Mitchell reaffirmed his government’s commitment to facilitate regional anti-corruption training and indicated that the country would seriously embrace the global changes that require improvement on governance models and public sector management. He stated that the country’s challenges have become more evident during the COVID- 19 pandemic and assured that “Grenada would continue efforts to improve our own governance models and ensure oversight with effective mechanisms that are responsive to both internal and external threats of corruption”. Grenada has ratified the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption of the Organization of American States (OAS) and has acceded to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Prime Minister Mitchell said that “such actions signify our collective intention to eliminate the practices and behaviours that foster corruption”.

During the opening ceremony, the Commonwealth Secretary General, Dame Patricia Scotland commented that Caribbean nations are currently faced with the combined impact of the coronavirus pandemic, climate crisis and serious economic challenges. She went on further to say that “on top of these, we have also to tackle, the no less injurious, but perhaps more invisible scourge of corruption; and we do so while simultaneously dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and its many distressing consequences.”

The Secretary General explained that “like the pandemic which countries are fighting to control, corruption inflicts huge human and financial costs and puts in grave jeopardy the wellbeing of the most vulnerable.” Dame Scotland added that although corruption is thought of primarily in monetary terms, the issue impacts quality of life in developing countries. She noted that “the illicit financial flows which cost developing countries US$1.26 trillion per year, if properly applied, would lift above the poverty threshold, the 1.4 billion people who get by on less than US$1.25 per day, and keep them there for at least six years.” The Secretary General reminded participants that no country is immune from corruption and as such cannot become complacent in its activities to fight it.