Seychelles AML reforms to take place over next three years
The National Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Strategy 2020-23 aims to 'address deficiencies highlighted by international bodies and jurisdictions in recent times'.
A national risk assessment, conducted by the Seychelles' Central Bank in 2018, found that one of the jurisdiction's key challenges was that it did not require International Business Companies (IBCs) to have their accounts audited. It also allowed IBCs to keep their accounting records outside of the Seychelles, without requiring them to be reported to the registered agent or supervisory authority in Seychelles when an entity is to be struck off the register.
In 2019, the OECD’s peer-review report on Seychelles' record on exchange of tax information on request triggered a response from the Seychelles' National Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Committee (NAC).
This stressed the 'urgent need' to amend or draft new legislation to ensure compliance with global norms, and produced a series of recommendations for reform. These included a requirement that all legal entities and legal arrangements must keep appropriate accounting records; alignment of the definition of beneficial ownership with international standards; strengthening of the requirement on obtaining information from foreign third parties and a rule that accounting records must be kept for a minimum of five years after an entity is liquidated. Significant sanctions for non-compliance were also proposed.
The first of these reforms, namely the new AML/CFT Act 2020 (the AML Act) and the Beneficial Ownership Act 2020 (BOA), were enacted in March this year and have now come into force. The AML Act sets up the necessary institutions and AML enforcement framework, while the BOA ensures identification and verification of beneficial ownership information of legal persons and legal arrangements, extending to domestic as well as trusts, associations, foundations and international companies registered in the Seychelles, among others. It includes provisions for the establishment of an up-to-date register of beneficial owners, as well as a secured and centralised Seychelles beneficial ownership database.
However, there is more work to be done, and the remainder of the legislation will take a further three years, according to Minister of Finance Maurice Loustau-Lalanne.
'The government and the private sector entities, including banks, lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, casino operators and others, all need to play their role if we are to be successful in this endeavour', he said.
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