Barbados has until June to meet 40 standards set out by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), aimed at combatting money laundering and the funding of terrorism.
With about eight weeks left to get the country’s house in order, Attorney General Dale Marshall has told Parliament he remains confident that the deadline will be met with favourable approval by the international regulatory body.
“We have been given until June of this year to meet those minimum standards or else we will be put on a further level . . . that is a little bit more intrusive. What we are in now is an enhanced follow-up process which means we have made the commitment to make the necessary changes to its law and to submit those changes we have made to the regional body the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.”
The Attorney General, who was leading debate on changes the Companies Act debate in the House of Assembly, said Bridgetown has already submitted a progress report on the changes.
“I am pleased to say that on the 26th of March, Barbados submitted a report within time. And we believe that based on the progress we have made that we will be in a position to say that we do much better in our June assessment. As long as we can get these pieces of legislation enacted by mid-May these will allow us to score even higher in that evaluation exercise.”
The Minister of Legal Affairs urged Barbadians to pay attention to changes and their implications as the country continues to position itself on the global financial services market. He drew specific reference to correspondent banking.
“The problem with playing with the big boys is that you have to follow the big boy’s rules. But more importantly, each of us rely everyday on the ability of our banks to transact business with banks overseas. Something called correspondent banking. Each of us rely everyday on the ability of our local enterprises to trade without undue restriction in foreign areas. Each of us rely everyday on the ability as Barbados as a domicile to attract overseas investors because we are considered to be a well-ordered, well-run and properly regulated domicile.
“We may not notice it but the ability of a Barbadian to buy a can of Brunswick sardines on a shelf in a minimart in Black Bess depends on the ability of our banks to make payments to overseas suppliers. The ability to conduct a simple credit card transaction whether it is on Amazon or if they have a child going university abroad… that if our institutions do not meet the standards of the other institution then they say: ‘I cannot do business with you.’”
Marshall explained that the financial rules were in place to ensure that money laundering did not find a home here..
He continued: “Don’t fool yourself money laundering is any time you take money that is the proceeds of a crime and put it through the banking system. A former member of this Chamber is currently charged in the United States with money laundering. This is not some figment of our imagination it is not a product of a hyperactive mind.
“There are Barbadians who are charged before our courts for money laundering as we speak. Therefore these measures are important in assisting us to discharge our obligations to ourselves as a well regulated state and our obligations to the international polity of which we maybe small but we consider ourselves to be an important member.”