Dr. Phillips said the Parliament needs to speak with one voice in an effort to improve Jamaica’s anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing framework.
In a statement today, the PNP Prtesident said money laundering links easily with other forms of organized crime and must be addressed frontally and that the financial intelligence and investigation bodies must be made independent so that they can carry out their duties without interference.
Dr. Phillips said the rules set by international organizations, however well intended, are sometimes implemented in ways that impede legitimate businesses by rendering ordinary transactions difficult or impossible.
“We have to ensure that the rules set by the international organizations are in our best interest,” Dr. Phillips told the Parliament on Tuesday.
“While I have no issue with some of the rules, the way the rules are implemented makes life almost impossible for ordinary legitimate business persons. The ‘Know Your Customer’ requirement can be an impediment. For example opening an account is almost impossible for some Jamaicans. If an individual has an account with one bank and seeks to open another account with another bank, the requirements make it almost impossible although they are already in the system, operating under Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) approved rules. It is as if the actions of the first bank, which is approved by BOJ, have no consequence.” Dr. Phillips said.
He explained that there are some Jamaicans who are into the cash sales sector, who are not able to lodge the complete amount earned from their businesses because of the limits on deposits.
He made reference to a business with heavy cash flow which had $ 3 million per day deposit limit. During the Christmas period, the business was generating cash of $6 million per day. The bank was not able to accept the additional funds based on the governing rules.
“Sometimes when we make blanket provisions, we run the risk of punishing the law abiding citizens because we want to catch one or two perpetrators.” Dr. Phillips said. “What we need to do is to enable our institutions to work effectively.”
He said that the BOJ, the Ministry of Finance and the Parliament need to speak with one voice and tell the global financial regulating bodies that the rules are counterproductive to the Jamaican economy and good business sense and they just cannot work for our ordinary people.
“Another example is this designation of ‘Politically Exposed Person’, this is an affront to the Jamaican Parliament. They see us as pariahs in the system. At least one banker said they want no account from any political party, my view is they should also not want any account from the government of Jamaica.”
He said the time has come for the Financial Intelligence Unit and Financial Investigations Division to have a requisite level of autonomy for action if we are to modernize our oversight of financial transactions in Jamaica.
“We need to find the right balance.” Dr. Phillips said.
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