Attorney-General Attends Arab Forum on Asset Recovery in Morocco
Posted November 12 2013
Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs the Hon. Mark Pettingill JP MP is currently in Morocco attending the second Arab Forum on Asset Recovery (AFAR II) which began yesterday (October 26th) and concludes on Monday (October 28th).
The event is being co-hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco and the United Kingdom, in association with the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative of the World Bank (STAR) and the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime.
The Attorney-General said, “It is essential at this time that we get our message out to all parts of the world about the effectiveness and strength of the Bermuda regime in terms of combating money laundering and terrorist financing and we are doing that at this forum.
“It is also providing the opportunity for us to highlight the strength of the regulatory framework through which the Bermuda Monetary Authority supervises financial institutions and the well developed and comprehensive approach taken to incorporations.”
The aim of AFAR II is to bring together the G8, regional partners and key financial centres to forge greater collaboration towards the recovery of stolen ‘assets’ (the proceeds of criminal conduct) in transition countries.
“ ‘Transition countries’ refer to the Arab countries that have gone through civil and political turmoil in recent times but are making efforts to stabilise their counties,” explained the Chair of Bermuda’s National Anti Money Laundering Committee (NAMLC) Cheryl Lister, who is also in attendance at the forum. “The most notable transition countries are Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Syria.
“Corruption has been a major challenge for those countries and thus trying to recover public funds and other assets that have been stolen by key persons in these countries is seen as important to the growth and stability of these economies. This forum therefore has a strong focus on assisting the transition countries in this potentially important aspect of their future development and building stability in the region.”
The UK Government invited their Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to attend this forum to highlight their commitment to international cooperation and the importance of having in place strong systems and controls to identify beneficial ownership of companies and other legal vehicles. In particular, with the support of the UK, it was agreed that Bermuda’s Attorney-General would present remarks in the opening session of the meetings, highlighting Bermuda’s leadership position in these areas. This took place yesterday.
In addition to the Attorney-General’s remarks, a handout highlighting Bermuda’s commitment to “Controls, Compliance and Cooperation” was circulated to attendees and both the Attorney-General and Ms Lister have had the opportunity to network with other attendees and reinforce the factors that support Bermuda’s reputation as a quality international financial centre.
Further to this, the Attorney-General and Ms Lister will be involved in bilateral meetings to discuss the matters highlighted in the remarks and other matters which are considered to be beneficial to Bermuda’s current and future economic development.
Today the Attorney-General and Ms Lister were active participants in the workshop on ‘Beneficial Ownership: State of Play, Challenges and Policy Implications’ and were able to directly address concerns/issues raised about “offshore centres” and again outline the comprehensive nature and effectiveness of the Bermuda position.
The Attorney-General said, “This forum provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the strength and effectiveness of Bermuda’s regime in combating money laundering and terrorist financing; highlight Bermuda’s almost 75 year history of having requirements in place to “know its clients” which have been updated and enhanced over the years and include provisions for information on the ultimate beneficial owner; and to provide information on Bermuda’s recent legislative amendments that allow for recovery of assets gained through unlawful conduct, using a civil procedure.
“Many countries have negative perceptions of ‘offshore’ centres which has often inhibited our ability to do business with persons/entities from those countries. Therefore by providing information on our robust approach to doing business it can positively help our business development efforts.”
Attorney-General of the United Kingdom Dominic Grieve is also in attendance and stated in relation to issues in the region that, “no Country should suffer for the corruption of their former Governments.”
US Attorney-General Eric Holder is also attending the conference and it is expected that Minister Pettingill will meet with him on Monday to discuss a number of issues of interest.
For more information about the forum or to watch the video address by the UK Prime Minister the Hon. David Cameron please click here: