BOJ confident of Jamaica being removed from Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Financing of Terrorism watchlist

BOJ confident of Jamaica being removed from Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Financing of Terrorism watchlist

Work proceeding in earnest to meet September 2021 deadline

Observer business writer

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) is confident of having Jamaica removed from the international watchlist of countries with weak Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (CFT) regime based on the work being carried out by the bank.

BOJ Deputy Governor Maureen Simms pointed out that the central bank has done much work in attempting to satisfy the European Union's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) AML/CTF requirements, which would see Jamaica being removed from the watchlist, which it was placed on earlier this year.

The country was placed on the watch list by the FATF, which found Jamaica to be deficient in several areas of AML/CTF, including not having a National Risk Assessment. This assessment would ascertain the country's institutional readiness and gaps or failures in stemming the financing of terrorist groups or money laundering.

Jamaica was also found to be lacking in its terrorism threat assessment of not-for-profit organisations or charitable organisations. In addition, Jamaica had not yet done an overall terrorism finance threat assessment.

Responding to questions from The Business Observer at the recent BOJ quarterly news briefing, Deputy Governor Simms explained that Jamaica has until September next year to satisfy the AML/CTF requirements.

Commenting on the requirements, Deputy Governor Simms advised that there are several of them, “some of them legislative, some of them are operational. One big one is the National Risk Assessment. That has a target date of April 2021”.

She told The Business Observer that the BOJ is working assiduously towards achieving the targets set out by the FATF, admitting that the work was slowed down as a result of the fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic. “As you would appreciate, the impact of COVID-19 has caused some areas to slow down. Work from home and not being able to carry out on-site supervision – all of these things impact us in the Caribbean,” Simms noted in explaining the reason for the slowdown.

Nevertheless, the BOJ deputy governor stated that the bank has been finding ways of working around these challenges, impressing that the team at the bank has been working hard and is very “laser focused” to meet the targets set by the FATF. In concluding Deputy Governor Simms declared that, “There are several targets spread across several diverse agencies and we are all working together to meeting and satisfying those targets.”

Two weeks ago BOJ's Senior Legal Counsel Celeste McCalla reported that Jamaica is in the embryonic stages of implementing a proper AML/CFT regime aimed at preventing the sort of financial corruption that can facilitate transnational crime and international terrorism.

Speaking at the ninth annual AML/CFT, which was held virtually, McCalla noted that Jamaica's inclusion on the grey list does not prohibit the country or the banking system from doing business with other countries, but could make it more difficult to execute foreign transactions.

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