The Senate, on Friday (June 21), approved a Bill to facilitate Jamaica’s acceptance into the Egmont Group.
The Egmont Group provides a forum for Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) around the world, to improve co-operation in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing; and to foster the implementation of domestic programmes in this regard.
The Bill, which amended the Financial Investigations Division (FID) Act, was piloted by Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding.
He explained that following the passage of the Financial Investigations Division Act in 2010, the FID submitted an application for membership to the Egmont Group, through its sponsors, Canada, and the Bahamas.
The Minister noted that the Division’s application for membership to the Egmont Group was denied, due to non-compliance with certain Egmont standards.
Mr. Golding said membership of the Egmont Group is one of the outstanding issues that need to be addressed, in order to end the close monitoring of the Jamaican anti-money laundering and combatingthe financing of terrorism standards by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.
“This Bill is in response to that situation and seeks to amend the Financial Investigations Division Act, to ensure Jamaica’s compliance with Egmont standards and to facilitate our acceptance into the Egmont Group,” he stated.
Section 2 of the Act has been amended to clarify the definition of competent authority, making it an entity authorised by the Minister to monitor the compliance of businesses in the regulated sector, with the requirements imposed by law for the prevention of financial crimes.
In addition, Section 12 (7) of the Act was also amended after the Egmont Group called into question the independence of the Financial Investigations Division.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Arthur Williams, said the Opposition is in full support of amendments to the Act, pointing out that Jamaica’s membership in the Egmont Group is very important.
“Not only do we learn firsthand, through membership, the developing trends across the world among those who are engaging in money laundering and the financing of terrorism, but we also get to learn best practices that are being used across the world to contain such practices,” he said.
He said Jamaica’s membership in the Group “brings us one step ahead of those who would seek, by their criminal actions, to destroy the viability of our country.”
The Financial Investigations Division is a department within the Ministry of Finance and Planning.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter