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AML/CTF compliance in the Bahamas


Money laundering and terrorism financing laws in the Bahamas?

In the Bahamas, money laundering and terrorism financing are treated extremely seriously and are regulated by the following laws:

  • Proceeds of Crime Act, 2000 (POCA): This Act contains specific measures against money laundering, including the definition of money laundering offenses, confiscation orders, forfeiture orders for cash held or transported through the Bahamas, and the establishment of the Confiscated Assets Fund.
  • Anti-Terrorism Act, 2004 (ATA): This Act provides the definition of terrorism and related offenses, establishes measures to prevent and combat terrorism, and sets out provisions for international cooperation in relation to the investigation, prosecution, and extradition in respect of such offenses.
  • Financial Transactions Reporting Act, 2018 (FTRA): This Act requires financial institutions to verify the identity of their customers, keep records of transactions, and report suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The Act also gives powers to the FIU to combat money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and other financial crimes.
  • Financial Intelligence Unit Act, 2000: This Act establishes the Financial Intelligence Unit as the national agency responsible for receiving, analysing, and disseminating disclosures of financial information concerning the proceeds of crime, money laundering, and the financing of terrorism.
  • The Central Bank of The Bahamas (AML/CFT) Guidelines: These guidelines are issued to assist financial institutions in detecting and preventing money laundering and terrorism financing.


Key obligations reporting entities have under the laws of the Bahamas?

Under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) laws in the Bahamas, particularly the Financial Transactions Reporting Act, 2018, and the Central Bank of the Bahamas (AML/CFT) Guidelines, 2018, reporting entities have the following primary obligations:

  • Conduct Risk Assessments: Reporting entities are required to carry out regular risk assessments to identify potential areas of exposure to money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • Undertake Customer Due Diligence Measures: Reporting entities must identify and verify the identities of their customers before establishing business relations or conducting transactions. This includes enhanced due diligence for high-risk customers.
  • Maintain Records: A crucial obligation is maintaining comprehensive records of all transactions for a minimum period. These records are vital for any potential investigations into money laundering or terrorism financing.
  • Develop Internal Procedures: Reporting entities are obligated to establish robust internal policies, procedures, and controls to prevent and detect activities related to money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • Report Suspicious Transactions: If a reporting entity suspects or has reasonable grounds to suspect that funds are the proceeds of criminal activity or are related to terrorism financing, it must promptly report this to the Financial Intelligence Unit.


ML/TF regulators in the Bahamas and what functions do they perform?

In the Bahamas, the regulation of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) activities is overseen by several authorities, known as "Supervisory Authorities" according to the Financial Transactions Reporting Act, 2018. These include:

  • The Central Bank of The Bahamas: This bank supervises banks and trust companies, ensuring they comply with AML/CTF laws.
  • The Securities Commission of The Bahamas: This regulatory body is responsible for ensuring securities and capital markets entities comply with AML/CTF regulations.
  • The Insurance Commission of The Bahamas: This Commission regulates insurance companies and intermediaries, ensuring compliance with AML/CTF laws.
  • The Inspector of Financial and Corporate Services: The Inspector oversees financial and corporate service providers, ensuring they comply with financial regulations, including AML/CTF laws.
  • The Gaming Board: This Board regulates the gaming industry, including casinos and lotteries, ensuring they adhere to AML/CTF regulations.
  • The Compliance Commission: This Commission supervises non-bank financial institutions for compliance with AML/CTF regulations.


Industry sectors subject to ML/TF regulations?

In the Bahamas, the following industry sectors are regulated under Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) laws:


This sector includes Bank and Trust Companies and Co-operative Credit Unions. These are supervised by the Central Bank of The Bahamas.

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Money Transmission

Money Transmission Businesses also fall under the purview of the Central Bank of The Bahamas.

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Securities and Investments

Non-Licensee Registered Representatives, which likely include representatives involved in securities and capital markets, would be regulated by the Securities Commission of The Bahamas.

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Trust Services

Private Trust Companies are supervised by the Central Bank of The Bahamas.

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Payment Services

Payment Providers are regulated by the Central Bank of The Bahamas.

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These sectors are subject to AML/CTF laws and regulations, and the entities within these sectors are required to maintain certain standards and report suspicious activities to the appropriate authorities.


Penalties for non-compliance with AML/CTF laws?

In the Bahamas, the penalties for non-compliance with Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) laws can be quite severe. They include:

  • Prosecution: Individuals and entities can be prosecuted for breaches of AML/CTF legislation. 
  • Fines: For non-compliance with obligations under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the maximum fine is $2,000,000. 
  • Imprisonment: Failure to report any suspicion of funds or financial services that may be related to or used to facilitate an offense under the Anti-Terrorism Act can result in imprisonment for a term of up to five years. 
  • Additional Fines: The offender may also be liable to pay a fine of $250,000 for failure to report suspicious activities.

These penalties underscore the seriousness with which the Bahamas treats offenses related to money laundering and terrorism financing.