Bahamas leads OACPS panel discussions on EU blacklisting

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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — The Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific (OACPS) responded to the resolution of the 111th OACPS Council of Ministers to organize a virtual seminar on Tax Matters and Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) to discuss the state of play of member states and brainstorm on a concerted OACPS action on the issue.

The Council of Ministers underscored the adverse and disastrous economic and financial effects and reputational damage on the OACPS countries and instructed the Committee of Ambassadors to determine whether the European Union’s (EU) unilateral actions to target non-EU member states are discriminatory and breaches international law, conventions or agreements.

Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary of The Bahamas to the Kingdom of Belgium and Head of Mission to the European Union Maria O’Brien noted the webinar’s purpose was to share experiences of the process with EU institutions on the economy and the policy action taken in response and compared the EU process to that of OECD and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the United Nations Model Tax Convention. The OACPS proposes establishing a joint structure of OACPS-EU member states, a mechanism for transparent and constructive dialogue in keeping with the new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement.

O’Brien welcomed the proactive engagement and visibility of The Bahamas’ competent authority for AML/CFT/CFP with the embassy on addressing the EU list.

National Identifying Framework Coordinator Dr Cassandra Nottage presented the state of play and the impact of the EU list on The Bahamas. Nottage stated that The Bahamas’ regulatory, supervisory and legal framework had been greatly enhanced and strengthened over the past 20 years, noting access to correspondent banking is critical to The Bahamas and regional financial sector business model and its viability.

The ambassador stated that 50 percent of the EU list on non-cooperative tax jurisdictions and high-risk third countries presenting strategic deficiencies in its AML/CFT regime were OACPS countries who had to mobilize resources from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and crucial development projects to address the EU list. The embassy hopes that EU member states would address their deficiencies under the new regulations to be approved in July, and the substantial weight of protecting the global financial system placed on less developed states would be eliminated.

Member of European Parliament and Co-Chair of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the OACPS-EU Carlos Zorrinho noted that the EU is continuing its efforts to have a balanced framework to develop an inclusive approach to address the security of the financial institutions of member states.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Carl W Bethel represented CARIFORUM on day three of the webinar titled “Brainstorming session of the OACPS coordinated action to help member countries deal and prevent measures with EU-Intra OACPS cooperation on AML/CFT and Tax Matters”.

Article Credit: EW News

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