15th May 2021
Report of the activities of the Barristers & Accountants AML/ATF Board (the “Board”) for the year ending 31st March 2021 - published in accordance with Section 5(3)(b) of the Proceeds of Crime (Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-terrorist Financing Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2008 (the “Act) for the calendar year ending 31st March 2021.
The Supervisory Regime
The most significant event of the preceding year affecting all sectors and the ability of the Board to carry out its mandated role has been, not surprisingly, the COVID 19 pandemic. As a result, the Supervisory program was greatly reduced, and no onsite reviews were conducted for obvious reasons. However, Desk Top Reviews continued for all Regulated Professional Firms and the work of the Board continued unabated, with the Board meeting remotely on a monthly basis in addition to conducting numerous sub-committee meetings throughout the last period. Robust remote working was enabled for the Supervisory Team by quickly adjusting our working platform and methods, as did most other professional entities.
This past year, the Board has invested significantly in terms of human resources and systems to support the demands of the Board’s operation and our regulatory obligations including the hiring of Peter Aldrich in September 2021 as the Technical Officer and Office Manager to replace the previous Technical Officer. The Board has been an active participant in the national exercise of the FATF Mutual Evaluation with the Supervisor Kim Wilson leading the charge. Arising from that, the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee and its Supervisory Forum have set out a detailed coordinated program for Bermuda, to which the Board ascribes. The Supervisory Team has spent a considerable amount of time on this process for which the Board is grateful.
The Board continues to work with both CPA Bermuda and Bermuda Bar Council through the Mutual Advisory Committee (“MAC”) to further build and consolidate a robust and effective regulatory regime. Much work has been done by the Board, the Supervisor Kim Wilson, Assistant Supervisor Martin Russell and Technical Officer Peter Aldrich to assist registrants and provide the necessary guidance and support as required. The Board recognizes the workload involved in meeting the required statutory responsibilities and the Board continues to refine its processes and procedures to allow for a more streamlined registration process. Accordingly, the Board revised many processes over the last few months and launched its online registration portal with electronic payment in January 2021. The portal continues to evolve, thanks to the input given from the working group from the Bar Association and CPA Bermuda members and Warren Cabral.
Since inception, the Board has been funded by way of a fee levied by CPA Bermuda in accordance with section 7A(g) of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Bermuda Act 1973, and by way of Section 9(ea) of the Bermuda Bar Act 1974. By way of reminder CPA Bermuda and Bermuda Bar levied fees on their respective members in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) between CPA Bermuda and Bermuda Bar, which laid out the respective organizations’ funding obligations.
That MOU expired some time ago and to try and assist both CPA Bermuda and the Bermuda Bar, the Board worked with MAC, which is comprised of members of the Board, CPA Bermuda and Bermuda Bar to find a more equitable way of funding the Board’s activities. After a consultation process, the result was a new fee structure based on the existing registration/renewal fees and to offset the Board’s operational costs, a minimum fee and/or 1% of Specified Activity Revenue (whichever is greater) was introduced. All documents related to the consultation are on our website.
Audit and Financial Statements
The Office of the Auditor General undertook the annual audit of the Board’s finances for year-end March 31, 2020 in accordance with legislation governing the Board’s activities. I am pleased to report that the Board received a clean audit opinion. To increase transparency, the Board resolved to publish all of its current and prior year’s financial statements on-line on the Board’s website //www.amlatfboard.bm. This has now been completed.
Further Registration changes
Work on refining our processes continues and we will start the 2022 registration process in October 2021. This will allow the Board to issue Registration Certificates to supervised entities in time for the Bermuda Bar Council and CPA Bermuda annual registration. The aim is to align the Board’s registration process with that of the Bermuda Bar and CPA Bermuda so make the process smoother and easier to follow.
As Board Chairman effective 1st October 2020, I would like to acknowledge and thank Warren Cabral for his contribution to the Board both as a Board member and Chairman over the preceding years. Warren ensured that the Board was well positioned on his departure on 30th June 2020 and we are grateful for his leadership and contributions.
This year the Board welcomed barrister Mark Cave appointed by the Bermuda Bar for a three-year term in April 2021. Mark’s bio is on the Board’s website. The Board continues to seek suitably qualified individuals to serve on the Board from Bermuda Bar members and CPA Bermuda to fill vacant positions. If you are interested in serving, please contact your respective membership body.
On behalf of the Board, I would also like to thank Tom Miller whose term as Board member and Treasurer officially comes to an end in June. Tom has been an invaluable Board member and his expert assistance in assisting with the annual audit cannot be understated.
The Board has had a busy year, and despite Covid-19 restrictions and being without a Chairman or Technical Officer for three months and being short of a full complement of Board members, the Board supervisory team managed to continue its supervisory duties, the Board conduct a consultation process, introduced a new fee structure, launched its online registration system and received a clean audit opinion. This could not all be achieved without the dedication of fellow Board members. As such I thank Tom Miller, Renee Oliveira, Alain Fournier, Amanda Scaife and also the Supervisory Team of Kim Wilson, Martin Russell and Peter Aldrich for their work over a trying period for the Board. In addition, I would like to thank both Elizabeth Christopher and Jonathan Howes and their respective teams for their input before, during and after the fee consultation process to agree the current fee structure.
Finally, the Supervisory Team will continue to assist in registrations. Your first point of call for queries and assistance should be Peter Aldrich.
Hon. Michael M. Fahy, JP