By Chris Patterson
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – The government of Jamaica continues to implement strategies aimed at suppressing organised crime and money laundering and countering terrorism financing as part of efforts to comply with the international requirements and standards of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Minister of finance and the public service, Dr. Nigel Clarke, has indicated that when Jamaica was evaluated, “we were [deemed to be] deficient in a number of things”. Consequently, he said:
“We signed a high-level political commitment to address those areas, and the good news is that we have done so with alacrity. We have shown deep commitment and resolve. As of March 30, we are compliant or largely compliant in 33 of 40 recommendations, and that has required amendments to several pieces of legislation. The thesis behind the reforms is that the very same … structure and framework that we use in a liberal society to enhance well-being, make sure that those frameworks cannot be successfully abused,” Dr Clarke stated.
The slate includes but is not limited to the proceeds of crime act and the microcredit act. The minister was speaking during the opening session for the Advanced Counter Gang Training Exercise at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Regional Headquarters in Mona, St Andrew, Thursday, March 30. Dr Clarke said the Privy Council’s recent ruling, relating to attorney-client confidentiality, is a critical component in addressing financial crimes.
“Now we are at the… tail end of the time frame of our commitments, and one of the areas that were still outstanding was to ensure that the beneficial ownership regime in Jamaica is consistent with international standards,” he indicated.
To this end, the minister said amendments are being made to the Companies Act to revolutionise and strengthen Jamaica’s beneficial ownership regime.
The legislative measure seeks, among other things, to amend the Company’s Act to ensure its provisions conform with the FATF’s standards relating to beneficial ownership of companies.
Dr Clarke explained that the passage of these amendments will address three of the four outstanding items agreed on in Jamaica’s action plan with the FATF for the anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework.
The Companies (Amendment) Act was passed in the House of Representatives on March 28. It was brought to the senate for debate and approval on March 31. The minister further advised that amendments will be made to the Trusts and Cooperative Services Act.
Meanwhile, Dr Clarke said between 2020 and 2022, money-laundering offences increased by 62 percent. Consequently, he said the government will continue to ensure that the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime provides law enforcement officers with the requisite tools to fight crime.
“The ministry of finance and the public service, through the FID (Financial Investigations Division), is an ally of yours, and we are working to ensure that the AML/CFT regime gives you the tools in this fight that Jamaica must win,” Dr Clarke said.
Other speakers at the session included Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck; Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn; Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, and United States Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Nick Perry.