Financial institutions in The Bahamas have an obligation to report suspicious transactions to the authorities. The reporting requirement serves to keep personnel alert to potential money laundering and to provide adequate notice to the authorities so that they can investigate whether money laundering occurred.
The suspicious transactions that must be reported include any involving property that is directly or indirectly proceeds of crime, as detailed in the Proceeds of Crime Act. For example, money paid in exchange for an illegal weapon would be proceeds of crime, and a bank would have to report the deposit of this money if it came to know or suspect that the money was exchanged for the weapon.
As part of its anti-money laundering initiatives, the Financial Transactions Reporting Act mandates that banks report suspected money-laundering activities and other suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit. Auditors must make these reports as well, if they come across suspicious transactions in the course of an audit.
Reports of suspected money laundering or other suspicious transactions must include a description of why the bank suspects that the transaction involves proceeds of crime. The reports should be truthful about the events that seem suspicious; false and misleading statements in a report can result in criminal penalties. Reports must include detailed information about the transaction, including contact information for each person making the transaction or on whose behalf it was initiated, bank account information, the nature of the transaction, the amount of the transaction, and more.
People who report suspicious transactions or speak to the police about them are protected from civil, criminal, or disciplinary consequences stemming from their reports. Their identities cannot be released by the police and usually are not released in judicial proceedings. In return, they must keep confidential the existence of a report or that a report is contemplated, disclosing this information only to the Financial Intelligence Unit and a few others specified in the Financial Transactions Reporting Act.
To learn more about Bahamian anti money-laundering requirements, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.