Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn. (FP)

Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, has emphasized the importance of maintaining robust and effective anti-money laundering and compliance programmes to prevent abuse and corruption of the financial sector.

According to him, such programmes would consider the risk typology, the mechanism for detection and mitigation and the implementation of appropriate sanctions for breaches.

Mr. Straughn made this point on Friday night as he delivered remarks at a reception for those who attended the inaugural symposium of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS), at Sweetfield Manor, Brittons Hill, St. Michael.

He said regulators, monitoring agents, market participants and advisory groups like ACAMS all had a vital role to play in stamping out untoward activities across jurisdictions.

He noted that international cooperation was another key feature of any developed framework.

“Barbados must be able to provide speedy responses to and obtain the same from relevant authorities across countries in pursuit of any suspicious transactions or matters being investigated. We must continue to engage with each other to prevent, identify, investigate, prosecute and deter financial crime,” he insisted.

Mr. Straughn stated that financial technology (FinTech) had opened a world of opportunities, not only for jurisdictions in terms of contributing to the economy, but also improving the ease of doing business for consumers. 

However, he pointed out, this has brought concerns in respect of anti-money laundering (AML) issues.

“Some FinTech companies, who have purportedly on boarded relevant AML and KYC [Know Your Customer] frameworks, argue that they are still unable to obtain banking relations. It appears as though the broad sentiment toward FinTech companies is not a very positive one. We must now put our heads together to develop a framework that will not cut off legitimate FinTech businesses from developing. In so doing, the reporting and regulatory requirements that will appropriately address compliance of FinTech companies are necessary,” he said.

He explained that within Barbados’ own joint regulatory sandbox, the Financial Services Commission and Central Bank had also examined the AML framework of the listed company.

“As far as I am aware, there has been no adverse reporting on the AML framework of the company, including the process of on boarding new clients. Perhaps the learnings from the sandbox can be instrumental in developing an appropriate AML template for companies within the FinTech space,” he suggested.

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