Laundering Measures updated
By Mellica McPherson
The Legislative Council in its
commitment to ensuring that the BVI maintains its reputation as a clean
financial jurisdiction passed an Act that would require that financial entities
be more cognizant, alert and informed of money laundering tactics so that they
will be able to identify and report potential money laundering ploys.
The “Proceeds of Criminal
Conduct (Amendment) Act, 2006 was brought before the Legislative Council on
Tuesday 3 October, and was passed with the full support of all of the Members.
The mover of the motion Attorney
General, Hon. Cherno Jallow told the Council that the Act is designed to provide
a system of mandatory reporting. He explained that under this new legislation
financial institutions and other providers of financial services will be
obligated to report suspected money laundering transactions.
The learned Attorney General
mentioned that there will be penalties for institutions and individuals who
abstain from reporting suspected activities. He mentioned that a special
steering Committee consisting of approximately 20 individuals will be given
responsibilities and powers that will be necessary for the execution of certain
aspects of the Act.
However, before the Act was
debated and given its third reading, Hon. Jallow requested that the measures
that are stated in the Bill not be seen as statutes to over regulate, but rather
as a means of protecting the Territory.
The motion was seconded by,
Deputy Chief Minister, and Minister responsible for Finance Hon. Ronnie Skelton,
who told the Council that “it is important that we try to modernize our laws,
but at the same time try to ensure that we don’t over do it.” He explained his
statement by pointing out that “if we over regulate, the businesses will go
elsewhere, but if we under regulate we might end up with a public relations
problem on our hands.” Therefore the Finance Minister recommended that “we use
all the brain matter we have to survive in the industry.”
Representative for the Seventh
District, Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering mentioned that the BVI is a small
country that is playing in a big market, therefore it is critical that “we have
people who understand the issues and fight for the BVI’s cause.” Dr. Pickering
reminded that the bulk of the Territory’s financial resources come from
financial services, and “the day we have a financial scandal, it will be like a
tsunami, so we have to be careful.”
Leader of the Opposition, Hon.
Ralph T. O’Neal agreed with the AG that the objective of the Bill is good. He
said that he fully supports implementing legislation that is up-to-date and
sound, so as to avoid situations that can affect the Territory: “The cleaner
your jurisdiction is, the more the crooks will want to operate in it, so we also
have to find ways to keep them out,” the seasoned politician pointed out.
The Leader of the Opposition
stated that the issue of money laundering is becoming more and more complicated.
However, he informed other members of the Council that he was not in agreement
to delegate the responsibility of the enforcement of certain aspects of the Act
to a Steering Committee.
First District Representative,
Hon. Andrew Fahie also rose to give his support to the Bill and in the process
gave a brief overview of the history of the BVI Financial Services. He also
stressed the importance of the BVI remaining on the cutting edge.
Chief Minister, Dr. the Hon. D.
Orlando Smith also reflected on the history of the financial services sector
before the Bill passed through committee stage with amendments.
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