Countries/Jurisdictions of Primary Concern - Bahamas

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Report

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is an important regional and offshore financial center. The economy of the country is heavily reliant upon tourism, tourist-driven construction, and the offshore financial sector. The Bahamas remains a transit point for illegal drugs bound for the United States and other international markets. The major sources of laundered proceeds are drug trafficking, gun trafficking, illegal gambling, and human smuggling. There is a significant black market for smuggled cigarettes and guns. Money laundering trends include the purchase of real estate, large vehicles, boats, and jewelry, as well as the processing of money through a complex web of legitimate businesses and international business companies (IBCs) registered in the offshore financial sector. Drug traffickers and other criminal organizations take advantage of the large number of IBCs and offshore banks registered in The Bahamas to launder significant sums of money, despite strict know-your-customer and transaction reporting requirements.

The archipelagic nature of The Bahamas and its proximity to the United States make the entire country accessible by all types of watercraft, including small sail boats and power boats, thereby making smuggling and moving bulk cash relatively easy. The country has one large free trade zone (FTZ), Freeport Harbor. The FTZ is managed by a private entity, the Freeport Harbor Company, owned and operated through a joint venture between Hutchison Port Holdings (a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, based in Hong Kong) and The Port Group (The Grand Bahama Port Authority, the Bahamian parastatal regulatory agency). Businesses at the harbor include private boats, ferry and cruise ship visits, roll-on/roll-off facilities for containerized cargo, and car transshipments. Freeport Harbor has the closest offshore port to the United States.

Gaming is legal for tourists. The Bahamas has four large casinos, including a recently opened casino in Bimini that draws in customers from the United States via a new ferry service to Miami. The $2.6 billion Chinese Export-Import Bank-funded Baha Mar Casino and Resort is scheduled to open in December 2014 on New Providence Island, and is set to be the largest casino in the Caribbean. Current law excludes Bahamian citizens, permanent residents, and temporary workers from gambling in The Bahamas. Illicit gaming operations based on U.S.-based lottery results and the internet, locally known as “web shops,” flourish in The Bahamas. A referendum that would have legalized web shop gaming failed in January 2013.

For additional information focusing on terrorist financing, please refer to the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism, which can be found at: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/

DO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ENGAGE IN CURRENCY TRANSACTIONS RELATED TO INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING THAT INCLUDE SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF US CURRENCY; CURRENCY DERIVED FROM ILLEGAL SALES IN THE U.S.; OR ILLEGAL DRUG SALES THAT OTHERWISE SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECT THE U.S.: YES

CRIMINALIZATION OF MONEY LAUNDERING:
“All serious crimes” approach or “list” approach to predicate crimes: List approach
Are legal persons covered: criminally: YES civilly: YES

KNOW-YOUR-CUSTOMER (KYC) RULES:
Enhanced due diligence procedures for PEPs: Foreign: YES Domestic: YES
KYC covered entities: Banks and trust companies, insurance companies, securities firms and investment fund administrators, credit unions, financial and company service providers, cooperatives, societies, casinos, lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS:
Number of STRs received and time frame: 183 in 2011
Number of CTRs received and time frame: Not applicable
STR covered entities: Banks and trust companies, insurance companies, securities firms and investment fund administrators, credit unions, financial and company service providers, cooperatives, societies, casinos, lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents

MONEY LAUNDERING CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS/CONVICTIONS:
Prosecutions: 0 in 2012
Convictions: 0 in 2012

RECORDS EXCHANGE MECHANISM:
With U.S.: MLAT: YES Other mechanism: YES
With other governments/jurisdictions: YES

The Bahamas is a member of the FATF and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, (CFATF), a FATF-style regional body. Its most recent mutual evaluation can be found at: https://www.cfatfgafic.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=376&Itemid=561&lang=en

ENFORCEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES AND COMMENTS:

The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas should provide adequate resources to its law enforcement, judicial, and prosecutorial bodies in order to enforce existing legislation and to safeguard the financial system from possible abuses. Gaming will expand in 2014, due to the growth of casino gaming and possibly from the legalization of “web shop” gaming. With this expansion, the government should ensure proper safeguards are in place, and provide additional suspicious transaction report (STR) training. The financial intelligence unit should continue its outreach, training and coordination with Royal Bahamas Police Force financial investigators. The Bahamas should further enhance its AML/CFT regime by criminalizing bulk cash and human smuggling; implementing the National Strategy on the Prevention of Money Laundering; ensuring full compliance with UNSCRs 1267 and 1373; passing proposed legislation to criminalize the participation in organized criminal groups; establishing a currency transaction reporting system; and, implementing a system to collect and analyze information on the cross-border transportation of currency. It also should ensure there is a public registry of the beneficial owners of all entities licensed in its offshore financial center.

The inaugural meeting of the government’s National Anti-Money Laundering Task Force was held in October. The Task Force, which meets monthly, is led by the Inspector at the Compliance Commission and includes representatives from the government and private sector. The goal of the body is to implement and comply with international standards to prevent and control money laundering and combat terrorist financing. The Task Force also will seek to engender a culture of AML in The Bahamas.