JIS News

The House of Representatives on Tuesday (Oct. 26) passed amendments to the Financial Services Commission (FSC) Act, to among other things, enable the Commission to satisfy the requirements of international financial regulators.
Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Omar Davies, who tabled the Bill, explained that the legislation would allow the FSC to become party to multi-lateral instruments spearheaded by bodies such as the International Organisation of Securities Commission. “This will have value not only in our anti-money laundering efforts, but will enhance the FSC’s capability to carry out its general supervisory mandate through cooperation with its overseas counterparts,” he elaborated.
Resulting from the amendments, exceptions to the obligations to secrecy will be extended in order to permit the disclosure of information to an overseas regulator of securities and insurance industries, and any other industry falling under the remit of the Commission, such as pension funds.
Further outlining the main features of the Bill, Dr. Davies informed that the new provisions also allowed information to be disclosed to the designated authority under the Money Laundering Act in specified circumstances.
The FSC may also disclose information to such other authorities as prescribed by the Minister, by affirmative resolution, to facilitate the investigation of offences against other laws.
The FSC Bill is part of a package of legislation, four of which were passed in the House some two weeks ago, to address deficiencies in the existing laws to fight money laundering and to ensure compliance with international anti-money laundering standards and treaty obligations.
The four other pieces of legislative amendments were: the Bank of Jamaica Act, the Banking Act, the Financial Institutions Act and the Building Societies Act. The amendments arose from the recommendations of the Financial Crimes Task Force, which was formed in 2002 and charged with the responsibility of identifying and pursuing legislative reforms needed to boost the country’s fight against money laundering and other financial crimes.
Responding to claims by Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw that the amendments would allow the FSC and its employees “virtually open licence to act without fear of punishment”, Dr. Davies stated that the section of the Act under which employees were protected specified that the exercise of any power had to be bonafide in order for any FSC employee to be so protected by the Act. He further emphasized that employees had to be protected and not left vulnerable to lawsuits, which might be frivolous.
Also responding to Opposition concerns that secrecy obligations were being infringed upon, the Finance Minister stated that in an increasingly globalised economy, Jamaica had to stay on par with other jurisdictions, and had to make its own financial information available if it expected to be treated on equal terms by other countries.

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