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Senate approves Proceeds of Crime amendment

Legislation aimed at seizing the proceeds of criminal activity and encouraging investment in Bermuda were both approved in the Senate, along with a bill repealing the Park Hyatt Act.

The Investment Funds Amendment Act 2013, the Proceeds of Crime Amendment (No 2) Act 2013 and the Park Hyatt (St George's) Resort Repeal Act 2013 were all approved unanimously by the upper house on Wednesday.

Junior Minister for Legal Affairs Jeff Baron said the Proceeds of Crime Act allows designated authorities to seize the proceeds of crime through a Supreme Court civil action.

He explained that such a tool could be used when an investigation demonstrates money or property in Bermuda represents the proceeds of illegal activity, but the suspect cannot be prosecuted in Bermuda because they are in another jurisdiction, dead, or cannot be located.

“This regime adds other tools to the legal arsenal to protect public safety and address the harm unlawful activity, both locally and globally, can do to our society,” he said.

“By targeting the illegitimate property, Bermuda is now able to more fully address the issues presented by increasingly complex and globe-spanning unlawful activities.”

Opposition Senator Diallo Rabain praised the legislation, saying that it improves the already effective legislation.

Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said the Investment Funds Act amendment is intended to help Bermuda become “a major player in the global funds industry”.

He said the legislation is hoped to prevent uncertainty and delays for investors by setting out new criteria for the exemption of funds from the requirements of authorisation and supervision.

The bill repeals the existing provisions on exemptions and makes two new classes of exempt funds, Class A and Class B. Class A funds will be available to large institutional funds with a licensed or authorised investment managers or an investment manager who has assets under management of $100 million or more, and requires that an officer, trustee or representative be appointed in Bermuda with access to the fund's books and records.

Class B will replace the existing exemption regime but will have similar features. There will still be an application for an exemption which the Authority will review to determine if the funds meet the statutory requirements, but if there are no objections or need for any additional information, the fund will be granted a Class B exemption within ten days.

Funds that are currently exempt would be grandfathered by the Act and continues to be exempt from authorisation and supervision under the repealed provisions for three years.

PLP Senator Renee Ming said the Opposition supports the amendments, saying it helps Bermuda provide better service and product for potential investors, adding: “We have a good reputation in the market, and we want to maintain our reputation in this market.”

The Park Hyatt Repeal Act, also presented by Sen Fahy, is hoped to open the door for other investors looking into developing the former Club Med site in St George's, and was applauded by both sides of the Senate.

Sen Rabain said the previous administration had already begun the process by terminating the lease on the site, saying: “We realise now that the method in which we went about to get this development in St George's was not the right method, and I'm happy to support this bill that we are now repealing this Act so we can move forward.”

He urged the current government to do its due diligence in seeking new investors for Bermuda so they don't find themselves going through the same process five years from now.

And Sen Ming, a St George's resident, called on the Government to continue working toward the construction new hotel in the East End and asked them to keep the public in the loop.

Sen Jeff Baron

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Published October 04, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 04, 2013 at 1:14 am)

Senate approves Proceeds of Crime amendment

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