Senate Government Affairs Leader Kamina Johnson Smith gave assurances that potential loopholes in legislation governing reporting requirements for real estate developers will be addressed when the laws are revised.
His assurance came amid concerns raised by Senate Opposition Leader Peter Bunting on Friday during consideration of the Prevention of Terrorism (Designated Reporting Entity) Resolution 2022 (Trust Service Providers and business). Bunting said that while the relevant legislation targets real estate brokers, it does not address the class of property developers.
“I think we have a reporting requirement for real estate brokers, but I think there is a gap because many real estate developers don’t necessarily go through dealers but sell themselves. This I believe provides an opportunity for construction finance to be used to launder illicit funds and when the (housing) units are sold the proceeds enter the banking systems effectively laundered. Developers who have this in mind would be encouraged to use their own sales team and not go through a registered real estate broker who has reporting requirements and could therefore flag some of them as suspicious transactions,” said he explained.
In response, Johnson Smith acknowledged the point raised by Bunting noting that dealer and developer laws needed reform.
“The issue of filling the gaps that exist is on the agenda,” she stressed.
Supporting the bill which passed without amendment, Bunting said the findings of a national risk assessment report released in August 2021 found property developments faced the second highest risk in terms of vulnerability to scam, behind remittance companies.
He said he was continuing a long process of government work with the Financial Action Task Force as well as the Caribbean Action Task Force to continuously strengthen and update our laws and regulations related to money laundering threats and financing of terrorism.