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.

CFATF delivers presentation on 'de-risking' at the Inaugural AML/CFT Empirical Research Conference in The Bahamas

The CFATF participated in the Inaugural AML/CFT Empirical Research Conference organized by the Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) and the Association of Supervisors of Banks of the Americas (ASBA), with the support of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the IDB Lab. The Conference was held from January 20-24, 2020 at the British Colonial Hilton in Nassau, Bahamas. The primary objective of Conference was to build a network of experts and encourage empirically based AML/CFT research to address challenges in the Caribbean and in the global network.

Representing the CFATF was Research Officer, Risha Pragg-Jaggernauth, who presented on “’De-risking’ – A CFATF Perspective." The presentation focused on the pioneering work on the ‘de-risking’ phenomenon in the Caribbean region, which was undertaken by the CFATF as part of the Chairman’s Work Programme 2018/2019. The data was collected and analysed from the financial institutions and Central Banks within CFATF Member jurisdictions.

Read the full paper here:  De risking in the Caribbean region A CFATF Perspective


St. Kitts and Nevis passes Virtual Assets Bill

On January 23rd, 2020, St Kitts and Nevis passed a Virtual Assets Bill, which requires an application process for the registration of virtual asset businesses.  St. Kitts and Nevis authorities also noted that, in order to ensure that criminals and their associates do not gain control of such entities, the Bill requires relevant information  to be provided at the application stage, for due diligence to be conducted on the directors and shareholders of each Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) to determine whether they can be considered as fit and proper persons to operate such a business within the country. .

The Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Timothy Harris stated that the passage of the Virtual Assets Bill will allow St. Kitts and Nevis to play a more responsible role in the global marketplace. Furthermore, the Prime Minister stated that the Bill allows the jurisdiction to stay up to date with the innovations within the financial industry while securing a safer and brighter future for the citizens. Commenting on the use of Fintech he said “whether it was Blockchain, Bitcoin or Crypto assets or virtual assets, the commonality is the use of financial technology to swiftly transfer value around the world and expedite the advent of what the governor of our central bank has been describing as the cashless society.”

The Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance went on to say that “the global community has been inundated with the effects of financial innovation which have compelled some countries to make changes to their financial landscape. Such innovation has resulted in the introduction of new technologies, services and products as alternative means of conducting business within the financial services sector. These innovations and the resultant changes in the financial landscape transcend national and regional borders and have assumed significance and prominence of a global magnitude.”

St. Kitts and Nevis authorities believe the Bill will also facilitate the ease of doing business in a cashless society and ensure that a legislative framework is established to facilitate engagement in the evolving virtual asset industry.



The Supervision Project - First targeted AML/CFT Supervision Training delivered to The Cayman Islands

The Supervision Project – Strengthening Supervisory System seeks to improve the level of Technical Compliance and Effectiveness of CFATF Member countries as it relates specifically to strengthening Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) supervisory frameworks. The Cayman Islands was the first Member of the CFATF to receive this type of training, which was delivered during the period January 8-10, 2020 by Ms. Glenda Leben, Supervision Advisor at the CFATF. 

To read more, click on the following link:  Supervision Project - 1st Training delivered to Cayman Islands



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