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Public exposure of secretive companies begins

As Jamaica heads towards the next round of assessments by watchdog Financial Action Task Force, FATF, in February, the Prime Contact Secretariat housed at Bank of Jamaica says Companies Office of Jamaica is going public with the names of companies that are delinquent in disclosing their true or beneficial ownership.

Eventually, the companies will also be struck from the registry if they fail to provide the information in a timely manner.

The Prime Contact Secretariat said that the FAFT International Cooperation Review Group has indicated that the recently concluded plenary, having reviewed Jamaica’s 8th progress report since the adoption of its 2020 Action Plan to address AML/CFT strategic deficiencies, agreed that 11 of 13 action items included in the plan had now been addressed or largely addressed.

The two outstanding items relate to the implementation of the beneficial ownership or ‘BO’ regime included in the newly revised Companies Act.

In relation to the two remaining action items, Bank of Jamaica said Companies Office of Jamaica was in the process of addressing them.

In relation to the first, the agency has started posting notices in the newspapers and the Gazette informing the public of the names of companies that are delinquent in providing BO information.

“Under the Companies Act, the sanction for not complying with the requirement to provide BO information is being struck from the register of companies,” the central bank said.

Beneficial ownership speaks to individuals who exercise true ownership and control of companies.

FATF is pushing for the application of sanctions for non-provision of timely, accurate, and up-to-date BO information; and secondly, for Companies Office of Jamaica to ensure that competent authorities, that is, regulators, have timely access to the information in the BO registry.

The process commenced with publication of names of delinquents to afford an opportunity for such companies to comply before the deadline for compliance expires, the BOJ said.

“That process is ongoing,” it added.

In relation to action item two, the central bank said competent authorities access to information in the BO registry at Companies Office has begun, and “the requisite tracking of this access to allow for demonstration of the timeliness of that access is under way,” it added.

Once Jamaica is in a position to demonstrate that these matters have been addressed, the country would have addressed, or largely addressed, all 13 of the agreed action items, the central bank remarked.

“Once the last two items are accepted by the FATF as addressed or largely addressed, the next step would be for the FATF to schedule an on-site visit to Jamaica to verify the sustainability of the measures Jamaica would have implemented to address the strategic AML/CFT deficiencies identified in its 2020 Action Plan and show that the implementation is ongoing and that there is the necessary political commitment in this regard,” the central bank noted.

For now, that review is expected to happen by February. Until then, Jamaica remains on the FAFT’s greylist.

“The findings of the on-site visit is a necessary step to inform the review group’s recommendation to the FATF Plenary of whether to delist Jamaica or otherwise,” BOJ said.

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