Minister of Finance and Planning, Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips, says the government intends to advance the process for the full implementation of a modern Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT) framework in Jamaica.
In a recent release from the Ministry, Dr. Phillips stated that the process, which involves amendment of several pieces of legislation and regulations, is part of the country’s obligation, as a member to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), to address those deficiencies that leave the country vulnerable to the laundering of funds derived from criminal activity.
The CFATF is an organisation of 29 states within the Central America and Caribbean region that have agreed to implement common counter-measures to address the problem of money laundering and terrorist financing.
As a member of the CFATF, Jamaica is required to implement the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) 40 recommendations on AML as well as nine special recommendations on CFT.
Failure to implement these measures puts Jamaica’s reputation and the good standing of its financial sector and law enforcement authorities at serious risk and could also fundamentally affect the country’s chances of successfully launching an international financial services centre.
The Minister acknowledged that, “while strides have been made to make the country more compliant with regional and international standards (such as the passage of the Proceeds of Crimes Act (POCA), the Terrorism Prevention Act (TPA) and the Financial Investigations Division (FID) Act)”, he is very dissatisfied at the rate of progress that had been made in fulfilling the conditions imposed in the FATF recommendations since Jamaica’s last Mutual Evaluation by the CFATF in 2005.
Dr. Phillips pledged the government’s full cooperation and commitment in taking the necessary steps to make Jamaica fully compliant “in the shortest time possible.”
He said that in order for Jamaica to fulfill its obligation in a timely manner, the government has sought international assistance particularly in “areas relating to the coordination of enforcement and regulatory activities.”
Some of the priority areas to be addressed arising from the 2005 CFATF evaluation are: amendments to the POCA and its regulations; regulating certain financial activities such as micro-financing and money-lending and bringing them under the Act; and taking measures to operationalise the TPA by listing terrorist entities.
Also to be undertaken is a review of the FID legal framework and strengthening the institutional capacity of the division; and extending the AML/CFT framework to Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs).
Under the FATF’s 40+9 special recommendations, it is required that certain gatekeeper professions outside of the financial sector be subjected to AML/CFT obligations. To date, the authorities have held consultations with some of the key professionals, who will be impacted by implementation of this framework.
In 2010, Cabinet approved a list that includes attorney-at-laws, accountants, casino operators, real estate brokers, trustees and dealers in precious stones and metals. Imposition of the AML/CFT regime will also have implications for the supervisory authorities that regulate these sectors, in terms of resources and training.
Additionally, because of the wide span of issues involved, the reforms require cross-ministry and cross-agency involvement and as such, a meeting is shortly to be convened involving the Ministries of Finance, National Security, Justice, and Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; as well as with the Bank of Jamaica, FID, Financial Services Commission (FSC) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to set out the work programme and timetable for the earliest implementation of the reforms.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Reporter