Barbados has escaped the United States Major Money Laundering List for 2015. However, seven other Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda and The Bahamas, have not been that fortunate.
According to the US, countries deemed as major money launderers are those whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of the proceeds from international narcotics trafficking.
The report cautioned though even though Barbados may not be a major money launderer, the current ability of money launderers to penetrate virtually any financial system makes every jurisdiction a potential money laundering centre.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite tonight welcomed the latest report and attributed the good news to the outstanding work the country has been doing with respect to legislation and regulations.
“This is a very good thing for Barbados. It speaks to our legislative system, the establishment of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), the more co-ordinated approach to regulating financial institutions, particularly the Central Bank’s regulation of banks. We are on the right track,” he said.
Brathwaite also noted that Barbados has been intensifying its efforts at battling money laundering with the establishment of an Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA) and Financial Intelligence Unit within his Ministry.
The AMLA was set up under Section 8 of the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (Prevention and Control) Act 2011-23 to supervise financial institutions in an effort to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. The AMLA maintains oversight of the national Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework.
The Financial Intelligence Unit is the central national agency responsible for receiving (and requesting), analyzing and disseminating to the competent authorities, disclosures of financial information: (i) concerning suspected proceeds of crime and potential financing of terrorism, or (ii) required by national legislation or regulation, in order to counter money laundering and terrorism financing.
Barbados also has a Financial Investigations Unit within the Royal Barbados Police Force.
The US report said that while the actual money laundering problem in jurisdictions classified as Jurisdictions of Concern, is not as acute as in those considered to be of Primary Concern, they too must undertake efforts to develop or enhance their anti-money laundering regimes.
“The category Jurisdiction of Primary Concern recognizes this relationship by including all countries and other jurisdictions whose financial institutions engage in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from all serious crimes or are particularly vulnerable to such activity because of weak or non-existent supervisory or enforcement regimes or weak political will,” the report released Wednesday said.
The list, which is part of the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report produced by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, does not consider the anti-money laundering measures taken by Barbados – or any country, the document noted.
Stressing that the focus was more on the significant amount of money laundered, US officials said this approach is different to that taken by the Financial Action Task Force’s International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) exercise, which focuses on compliance with stated criteria regarding its legal and regulatory framework, global co-operational and resource allocations.
Of the seven Caribbean countries identified on the list, Antigua and Barbuda is being urged by the State Department to continue to work to implement its Anti-Money Laundering Action Plan and devote resources to money laundering investigations and enforcement.