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Proceeds of Crime law beefed up

Shawn Crockwell: questioned whether anti money laundering laws were just window dressing

Legislators have approved an Act toughening Bermuda’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism regime — even as Opposition MPs decried the appearance of an international double standard.

The Proceeds of Crime Amendment (No 2) Act amends the principal legislation by adding real estate and dealers in high-value goods to the scope of supervision.

The House heard that as jurisdictions toughen their legislation, those seeking to launder cash are turning to new avenues such as property and valuables.

Saying he could not recall ever seeing anyone prosecuted under the island’s regime, Independent MP Shawn Crockwell questioned whether Bermuda’s laws were “just window dressing” — and Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown told the House that while compliance was a must, “we should ensure there is no hypocrisy”.

“HSBC engaged in money laundering on an epic scale in Mexico,” Mr Brown said, noting that the bank had paid a steep fine but avoided getting charged. “A big company can get away with it.”

Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General, told MPs that Bermuda “acquits itself extremely well” but was obliged to keep up with regulatory standards.

Several Opposition MPs queried the inclusion of the Governor to the list of those to whom permitted disclosures could be made for investigation, with Mr Brown most strongly opposed to the adding of a politically appointed official.

However, Mr Moniz said it was part of the Governor’s executive responsibility with respect to international law.