Alan Dunch, a lawyer, told business leaders on Thursday that the island’s three main banks – HSBC, Butterfield and Clarien, had informed the One Bermuda Alliance government that they “won’t bank casinos”.
Tourism Minister Michael Fahy said later that government was aware of the issues and it was important to have a robust regulatory regime in place.
“Nobody told me when I took this job on that the three banks in this country had told the government they won’t bank casinos,” Dunch told the annual meeting of the Association of Bermuda International Companies.
He added: “If we can’t get the banks to bank casinos … there won’t be any casinos.”
The three banks were not immediately available for comment.
Dunch spoke after the commission’s executive director, Richard Schultz, outlined plans to get the gaming industry up and running in Bermuda, including ensuring robust anti-money laundering measures were in place.
“Mr. Dunch and I have flown to the East Coast of the United States to meet the head of the money-laundering office for Wells Fargo Bank, which is the correspondent bank to Clarien.
“We have flown to New York to meet the chairman of the Bank of New York about our money-laundering controls and they have given us serious discussions about the importance of having this part buttoned down.
“And what’s at stake here is just not our ability to offer a casino industry.
“We think it is the ability of this island to maintain its brand as a viable and legitimate economic entity,” Schultz said.
Fahy told the Royal Gazette newspaper that the government is well aware of the issues that surround banking the proceeds from gaming.
“It is important that we have a robust regulatory regime to demonstrate to both local banks and their overseas correspondent banks that adequate know-your-client and anti-money laundering provisions are in place.
“As we move ever closer to having gaming in Bermuda through the allocation of casino gaming licenses via the Casino Gaming Commission we will ensure that such robust provisions are in place to give comfort to our partners that our regime is of a first-class standard,” Fahy said.
Dunch discussed the recently tabled Casino Gaming Amendment Bill, which he said could be debated in parliament in a week’s time.
He said existing legislation allowed for the issuing of three casino licenses but the amendment would allow a fourth license to be issued to the developers of the St George’s Resort, the Desarrollos Group.
Dunch confirmed that Bermudians would be able to visit casinos.
“I have no intention of telling my fellow Bermudians that they can’t participate in gaming,” he said.
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