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Senate passes BMA bill

Senators passed a bill yesterday that aims to provide greater enforcement powers to the Bermuda Monetary Authority and cut its financial deficit.

The Bermuda Monetary Authority Amendment Bill will allow the Island's regulatory authority to hike a number of its fees by an average of three per cent and to provide enforcement powers for the BMA in its regulation of the relevant segments of the financial sector.

Another section of the bill will allow the BMA to enter the premises of licensed companies and obtain access to information and documents. It will also allow the BMA to have investigations conducted on its behalf with regards to “the nature, conduct or state of the licensed company's business or any particular aspect of it”, or “the ownership or control of the licensed company”.

The person appointed to investigate may also investigate the business of a person who is, or has at any time, been a member of the relevant sections of the financial sector. Anyone who fails to comply without excuse, or obstructs any investigation will be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of $10,000 or imprisonment of six months, or both.

OBA Senator Michael Fahy said that the bill aimed “to maintain a high quality regime that is consistent with international standards.”

He said that the BMA had in the past run a deficit in an effort to minimise the impact of fee increases on the financial services industry but stressed that the current situation was “unsustainable”, adding that it was also an effort to avoid continued reliance on deficit financing.

The proposed increase of the fees to all relevant institutions was by an average of three per cent, with a few exceptions.

Sen Fahy said the increase aimed to reflect “a sound balance between the authority's need for additional financial resources and the ability of regulated firms to absorb.”

The authority took into consideration several factors including keeping up with inflation — there had been no fee increases for several years.

PLP Senator Renee Ming agreed that the three per cent average fee increase was “reasonable” and that the enforcement powers granted to the BMA would help Bermuda to remain competitive and in keeping with global changes.

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Published December 18, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 18, 2014 at 1:02 am)

Senate passes BMA bill

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