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  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has called on the financial sector to ensure a regulatory environment that removes profitability from criminal activity.
  • Mr. Holness pointed out that money laundering, which is directly linked to crime, is a serious global problem, estimated to account for between two and five per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
  • “We must take the profit out of crime. Criminals must have no access to the financial system; and where they operate in the informal economy and the backwaters of our country, we must find them and separate them from their illegal gains,” he said.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has called on the financial sector to ensure a regulatory environment that removes profitability from criminal activity.

“We must take the profit out of crime. Criminals must have no access to the financial system; and where they operate in the informal economy and the backwaters of our country, we must find them and separate them from their illegal gains,” he said.

Mr. Holness was giving the  keynote address at the fifth annual Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Conference, today (October 10) at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel,  being hosted by the Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA) and the Jamaica Institute of Financial Services (JIFS) from October 10 to 11.

The Prime Minister urged collaboration to ensure that criminal activities remain unprofitable.

“The challenge for all of us – in the banking system, commerce or industry – is (to figure out) how to build a system that detects and deters such criminal and terroristic use of our financial system,” he said.

Mr. Holness pointed out that money laundering, which is directly linked to crime, is a serious global problem, estimated to account for between two and five per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

“Jamaica cannot afford to be seen as a weak link in the chain of international efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. We must have a robust anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism regime in place to prevent criminals from benefiting from the proceeds of crime,” he said.

Mr. Holness further emphasised that the sector must ensure the effectiveness of a comprehensive AML/CFT framework through continual assessment of its impact in reducing money laundering and criminal activities.

He said the National Security Policy indicates that taking the profit out of crime is one of the foremost measures for Government to combat crime. This was also underscored in the recently published recommendations by the Economic Growth Council (EGC).

A robust system of compliance and scrutiny in the financial sector is particularly critical, as the country and the Caribbean region are faced with the prospect of losing ties with international correspondent banking partners, which the Prime Minister describes as the “most significant and imminent threat to the region’s financial stability at this time”.

Mr. Holness reiterated the Government’s commitment to taking all steps to insulate the financial sector from the de-risking threats, and said his administration has actively sought to highlight the concerns in all fora, including engagements with CARICOM, the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He said Jamaica’s regulatory environment must meet international standards to mitigate an unfavourable global reputation or rating on Jamaican business and financial institutions.

The conference is being hosted under the theme ‘Understanding our Obligation… Safeguarding our Future’, and includes AML/CFT compliance practitioners from deposit-taking and non-deposit-taking sectors; attorneys-at-law; internal and external auditors from the local and regional financial sectors; front-line staff, among other stakeholders.

It aims to address the importance of compliance practitioners fully comprehending their roles and appreciating the expectations of senior management. The conference includes a round-table discussion with industry leaders on the value of having an efficient compliance programme in their organisations.

The keynote address on the second day of the conference, which has as its main sponsor, the National Integrity Action (NIA), will be done by Minister of Finance and the Public Sector, Hon. Audley Shaw.