Premier David Burt asserted today that preparation for an upcoming assessment of “critical” importance to Bermuda’s economic future is “a national priority”.

Speaking at a news conference this afternoon, the Premier and Minister of Finance said the island will be subject to evaluations, starting in the spring of 2018, to assess Bermuda’s anti-money laundering and terrorist regulations.

More than a dozen government and private sector entities will be involved in the evaluation by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. The results will be subject to review and approval by the Financial Action Task Force – the international body.

“I cannot emphasize too strongly to everyone on our island the necessity for Bermuda to pass this international examination,” said Mr Burt.

“Our economic stability and the future of our international business platform could be dependent upon it. Our recognition and understanding of the impact of this initiative has resulted in us taking quick and decisive action. We have already carried out an evaluation of our current state of preparedness for this critical review and we have determined a path forward to refine our efforts to ensure success.”

File Photo: Swearing In Ceremony at Government House

While noting that “these are fast-moving times, and this Government is committed to ensuring Bermuda keeps up”, he said the new Progressive Labour Party administration has “hit the ground running” to “maintain that momentum”.

“In order to provide jobs for Bermudians and ensure that all of Bermuda prospers, not just one segment, we must focus on the economy. To that end, I am announcing that the Government will be making it a national priority to prepare Bermuda for an upcoming assessment that is of critical importance to our country’s economic future,” he said.

As Minister of Finance, the Premier will chair the Cabinet committee leading the effort, with Attorney General Kathy Lightbourne-Simmons, Walton Brown, the Minister of Legal Affairs, Jamahl Simmons, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, and National Security Minister Wayne Caines.

“Although Bermuda already has a comprehensive legislative framework that has been developed and updated over many years, the complexity of the standards against which we are being evaluated mean that there are still some outstanding legislative initiatives that must be progressed,” Mr Burt said.

“This is one of the very significant reasons we will be recalling Parliament in early September – to address these and other important matters. In the meantime, work will continue on the effective implementation and evaluation of our current framework,” he added.

As a top jurisdiction of choice, ultimately he said “we will pass the muster”. But he said: “There are still some outstanding legislative initiatives that must be progressed.”

He stressed that “having a strong and effective framework to combat money laundering and terrorist financing is important to our island home”. “It can feel distant and remote to many of our citizens, but the prosperity of Bermuda depends on it, and when Bermuda succeeds and works together, we all have a chance to succeed.”

While the current regime “is already robust and effective”, the Premier concluded: “The international community must have measures by which to acknowledge and recognize this. This is what this assessment is all about.

“There is much to be done but this Government will do all that we can to ensure that Bermuda achieves the required level of success. For indeed we recognize that failure in this area is not an option if we are to remain the jurisdiction of choice.”