What's Happening

Europol publishes Report on “Pandemic Profiteering”

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) has published a report titled “Pandemic Profiteering: How Criminals Exploit the COVID-19 Crisis”. The report provides an overview of how criminals have adapted their activities to the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, the report focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on crimes such as fraud, cybercrime, distribution of counterfeit and sub-standard goods and organized property crimes. This report is based on information Europol receives from the EU Member States daily and intends to support Member States’ law enforcement authorities in their work.

To read the full report, click here.

The IDB publishes new Transparency and Integrity Sector Framework Document

 

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a new “Transparency Sector Framework” which is a roadmap for the Bank's strategic efforts in helping countries with their anti-corruption efforts.

The document, entitled “Transparency and Integrity Sector Framework Document” analyzes corruption in its different forms, as well as the factors that help explain it in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. As stated by Roberto de Michele, Modernization of the State Principal Specialist in the Innovation in Citizen Services Division, IDB:

“It provides an analysis of the lessons learned in promoting transparency reforms and the public policies that are helpful to prevent the problem. The document emphasizes the importance of improving the quality of institutions and regulations aligned with international integrity standards. It also proposes to ensure access to information using digital technologies, in order to improve public and social control. The Sector Framework Document also highlights the importance of strengthening the agencies responsible for promoting integrity and accountability.”

 To read the full report, click here.

 

Bank of Jamaica issues Fintech Regulatory Sandbox Guidelines

The Bank of Jamaica has issued Fintech Regulatory Sandbox Guidelines to guide the establishment of a Fintech Regulatory Sandbox. The objectives of the Fintech Regulatory Sandbox are to provide a platform to encourage innovations in financial services, promote competition and promote financial inclusion. The Sandbox will also promote the Bank’s understanding of fintech products, services and business models and inform the framing of new regulations or amendment of existing regulations. The Sandbox Guidelines came into effect on March 16th, 2020. 

To read more about this initiative, click here.

Jamaica Stock Exchange to Begin Digital Asset Trading in June

The Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) will commence trading of digital assets on its stock exchange from June 2020. Blockstation, a Canadian-based partner company, will be providing the platform for trading to occur, which will be hosted in Jamaica. The JSE announced its partnership with the company approximately one year ago and have conducted two trials for the trading of digital securities since then. The initiative emerged due to an upsurge in the virtual currency market and the continuing popularity of the cryptocurrency, bitcoin. Four companies have pledged the initial batch of security tokens, which operate similar to shares of a company. These are BRED, based in Ontario, WiPay from Trinidad and Tobago, VeleV Capital, an investment company from Canada, and Lotus Energy, a renewable energy-based company from Australia.

The JSE Group Managing Director, Marlene Street Forrest, stated that the digital portal will allow anyone with an account with an approved broker to trade online, comparable to equities.  “When you go into the system the tokens will be priced and an individual will subscribe for how much they want. The arrangement for how you are going to settle the transaction will be between yourself and the broker,” she said. She further stated that the JSE digital platform will be launching with the approval of regulators, which has been part of its attraction for foreign companies. Two of the companies have already submitted their prospectuses and are currently awaiting approval from the Financial Services Commission (FSC) to make their offer to stock market investors. Prospectuses are also submitted to Blockstation.

 

Collective Stakeholder Efforts Key to Advancing Anti-Money Laundering Framework

The Honourable Minister of Finance and the Public Service in Jamaica, Dr. the Honourable Nigel Clarke, stated that collective stakeholder efforts are required at all levels to significantly improve the country’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework. While speaking in the House of Representatives on January 28th, 2020, Dr. the Honourable Clarke, noted that although extensive measures have been undertaken to improve the framework, a vast amount of work remains to be done.

The Honourable Minister emphasized that a robust AML/CFT regime will not only effectively combat Money Laundering (ML), Financing of Terrorism (FT) and Proliferation Financing (PF), but also safeguard Jamaica’s financial system and national security interest. “A strong AML/CFT framework will mean that Jamaica is seen by the world and our international partners as a diligent global citizen, intent on undercutting the underlying, primary profit-making motives related to crime, such as corruption, drug trafficking, market manipulation, fraud, tax evasion, along with any avenues used to conceal the proceeds of such crime or to further the reach of criminal enterprise,” he said.

In its last evaluation for the period 2015/2016, led by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), Jamaica was found to have several deficiencies in relation to Technical Compliance and Effectiveness. Based on that Mutual Evaluation Report (MER), Jamaica was placed in Enhanced Follow-up by the CFATF, which meant that the country is obligated to report on its progress. Thus far, two reports have been provided in May 2018 and May 2019.

The Honourable Minister also stated that Jamaica established several measures to implement the required Recommendations. These included amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act; the Terrorism Prevention Act; the United Nations Security Council Resolution Implementation Act; amendment to the Companies Act; further enhancement by AML/CFT supervisors, such as Bank of Jamaica and Financial Services Commission, targeting their supervisory practices and measures to develop the required risk-based approach to supervision. Additional measures undertaken were improvement to the operational framework of law enforcement agencies and the completion of a National Risk Assessment (NRA) of its ML/TF risks in May 2016.

According to the Honourable Minister, there are still several outstanding requirements, among which are the finalization of the NRA to identify risks associated with several key financial and non-financial sectors and the inclusion of all DNFI/DNFBPs under the AML/CFT regime.