As concerns abound about money laundering and international financing of terrorism, Barbados is due to come in for greater international scrutiny later this year.
The island will be among the first group of Commonwealth Caribbean countries to be evaluated in the fourth round of the anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism mutual evaluation exercise, which runs from December 5 to 16.
Chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA) Jefferson Cumberbatch said the island would be assessed as to the soundness and effectiveness of its anti-money laundering/countering of financing terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.
He explained that a lot had changed since the last evaluation in 2006.
However, addressing the opening of the three-day national risk assessment workshop at the Radisson Aquatica Hotel this morning, he said of the 40 recommendations put forward by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), special focus would be given to the recommendation that countries identify and assess risks for money laundering and terrorism financing.
In that regard, he said Barbados was getting technical support from the World Bank in completing a national risk assessment by June 3.
Already some agencies have commenced individual sector risk assessments, which were seen as critical to the island maintaining a positive reputation as an investment jurisdiction.
“We have seen the negative effects that many of our neighbours have experienced by grave loopholes in their AML/CFT regime, from correspondent banks threatening no longer to conduct business with some jurisdictions to actually doing so with others,” Cumberbatch said, adding that investments were also at stake.
However, the World Bank has given the assurance that the international lending agency was “not here to assess, rank, judge or put Barbados on a list with other countries.
“We are solely here to provide you with a methodology so that Barbados can conduct its own risk assessment. We will guide you to use the methodology but ultimately your findings and conclusions are those of Barbados. The World Bank will not pressure you to change your conclusions in anyway,” one bank official said.
Barbados joins 72 other countries, 14 of which are from the Caribbean, using the World Bank assessment tool and methodology. So far 32 countries have concluded the process.
“We are very familiar with some of the concerns you might be faced with and we are here to share with you the lessons we have learned in working with countries all over the world . . . who face the same concerns about the possible restraints on correspondent banking and also understanding how terrorism financing or money laundering may affect the development of the financial sector in Barbados” the World Bank official added. (MM)