By Julia Rawlins – Bentham
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) — Attorney General and minister of legal affairs, Dale Marshall, has defended Barbados’ anti-money laundering efforts despite the country being blacklisted by the EU for harmful practices.
Marshall has condemned the action, noting that the government was made aware that the EU had determined that Barbados was “a significant threat to the financial systems of its member countries”, and of its intention to place the island on its blacklist.
But the attorney-general contended that such actions amounted to “a little more than a conviction without a trial. We have been given no details of this, and in fact, the first time we are hearing of it is through the overseas press.
“Even the mighty must abide by the rules of natural justice, and give us an opportunity to be heard. We (Barbados) do not have a seat at their table when our standing is being discussed, and if you say that we are a non-cooperative jurisdiction, then tell us in which areas you consider that we are not cooperating.
“This approach of the EU is exactly the approach that was taken against us last year in relation to what they deemed to be harmful tax practices,” Marshall stated.
He further noted that Barbados had made significant strides over the last two years with its anti-money laundering efforts. These efforts were recognized and lauded by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is the international standards-setting body for this area.
“It was acknowledged that we have made significant progress towards addressing a number of the recommendations in the mutual evaluation report to improve both technical compliance and effectiveness, including updating the National Risk Assessment and developing mitigating measures. Further, an application for upgrades in a significant number of technical compliance ratings is in progress,” the minister stated.
However, he did admit that there were still some areas that needed strengthening but stressed that those were in the minority, based on the FATF’s jurisdictions under increased monitoring.
“We will continue undaunted by this to strive for the highest-ranking for our regulatory framework,” Marshall concluded.
* The EU document, expected to be published on Thursday, also includes Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana, Jamaica, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, and Zimbabwe. Countries on the list are said to “pose significant threats to the financial system of the Union.”