MPs pass anti-terrorism amendment
Bermuda took a step closer to meeting international requirements to combat money laundering and terrorism financing when MPs backed legislation in the House of Assembly.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said changes in the Proceeds of Crime Amendment Act 2019 focused particularly on international financial sanctions.
She told members on Friday that the assessment of Bermuda's anti-money laundering and antiterrorism financing regime was at “an advanced stage”.
Ms Wilson said: “During the assessment period and indeed for some time prior to that, Bermudian authorities have worked collaboratively with Government House and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to enhance Bermuda's compliance with the targeted financial sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the United Kingdom and the European Union in relation to terrorism, terrorism financing and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
“In September of 2018 these efforts culminated in the delegation of functions by the Governor to the Minister of Legal Affairs to support more focused domestic attention on these international obligations.”
Ms Wilson explained that amendments to the Financial Intelligence Agency Act 2007 allowed the FIA to “make relevant disclosures” to the minister — currently Kathy Lynn Simmons, who sits in the Senate — when necessary.
Other changes meant supervisory authorities would be able to draw on a range of “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” penalties if the rules were broken.
Ms Wilson added: “Bermuda remains committed to working to achieve full compliance with the international standards and this Bill is another step further in the ongoing journey to achieving this.”
Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, said the Opposition stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the Government in the face of increasing regulatory pressures from overseas.
He added: “There are some beyond our shores who seem to misunderstand us entirely.
“They don't understand what Bermuda's about, they don't understand the expert level of regulation that exists on our island, they simply don't understand the way that we do business.
“They have absolutely distorted perceptions of who we are and what we're about and it's deeply regrettable because they lead to judgments that are inaccurate and improper and they lead to judgments that can impact upon us as an island and as a country.
“So we are pleased, as the Opposition, to support the Government on this amended Bill.
“Regulation is important, we are a well regulated jurisdiction and we should be proud of that.”
MPs also supported orders from Walton Brown, the Cabinet Office minister, on behalf of David Burt, the Premier, and Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community and Sport, that related to the so-called whistle-blowers' act.
The Good Governance (Protected Disclosures) Order 2019 and the Employment (Protected Disclosures) Order 2019 added the manager of labour relations — or a designated inspector — to the list of people that can hear from an employee about possible wrongdoing without that individual fearing recrimination.
Supporting the orders, Mr Pearman explained they were designed to “expand the listed persons to whom a person can blow the whistle”.
He added: “When you blow the whistle you have to tell someone in a position of authority to trigger the proper process and that's what this order does, it's expanding the categories of persons who can be recipients of a blown whistle and be alerted to the wrongdoing, so this is a positive step in our local Bermuda law to expand in this way.”