The Government is moving to review several pieces of financial sector legislation to apply more stringent penalties for breaches.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, made the disclosure during a policy address on the financial sector held on Monday (January 23) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in downtown Kingston.
Dr. Clarke said the review is necessary to strengthen the country’s ability to identify, investigate and prosecute financial crimes in the banking, securities, insurance, and pensions sectors.
Legislation to be amended include the Securities Act, Banking Act, Insurance Act, and the Pensions Act.
“We will stiffen the penalties for white-collar crime in the financial sector. The discrepancy between the sanctions for white collar crime and other forms of crime must be erased,” Dr. Clarke said.
“If you rob depositors or you defraud investors and you put our financial systems and our way of life at risk, the Jamaican society wants you to be put away for a long time,” he pointed out.
The Government will also require securities dealers to publish their financial statements and material events at standards equivalent to public companies on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.
Material events relate to any information that would affect the judgment of an informed investor.
The Government is also moving to tighten regulations around connected party transactions for securities dealers and introduce a fixed penalty regime, where companies can be fined for Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and other breaches.
“If they don’t pay, they go to court. What we have now is that authorities have to take companies through the court process, and only then can the fines be imposed. This will improve the sanctions regime, and the speed with which sanctions can be applied,” Dr. Clarke stated.
The Finance and the Public Service Minister further informed that the Government will tighten regulations around insider trading to ensure that the penalties and sanctions regime is severe and dissuasive.
“We will require technical assistance from our international partners in the design of these reforms and in advising us of additional reforms that may be necessary,” Dr. Clarke said.