Barbados is not immune to an act of terrorism, but officials are working around the clock to safeguard against the possibility of an attack, said Attorney General Dale Marshall.
His comments came in Parliament in response to the deadly bombings in Sri Lanka over the Easter weekend, which has so far resulted in the confirmed death of over 300 people and injury of more than 500 others, plunging the South Asian island into mourning.
Marshall, who was speaking during debate on the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (Prevention Legislation) Amendment Bill in Parliament on Tuesday, said he was not aware of any Barbadians being affected so far, but warned that Barbados was not immune to such occurrences, even if for the ripple effects.
The Attorney General said: “I have to caution the Barbadian listener that the tentacles of terrorism, though they may not have seen expression in Barbados, we guard every single day against the possibility of it happening here.
“Lest Barbadians feel all this talk about ani-terrorism is of no importance in Barbados because we are a small domicile, I have to warn that we continue to be exposed to all of these things.”
Pointing to Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica where he said individuals were being watched very carefully by regional and international law enforcement officials because of their association with “significant terrorism organisations”, Marshall said he has seen an increase in the number of “radicalised Muslims” in the Caribbean.
“I am not trying to scare anybody, but Trinidad is 40 minutes flying time away from Barbados. Trinidadians come and go, Bajans come and go and terrorism is something that knows no borders. Nobody’s passport has on it a stamp marked under employment ‘terrorist’. You don’t see that,” Marshall said.
The updated anti-money laundering legislation will result in changes to the Financial Services Commission Bill and the Corporate Trust Services Providers Act.
Marshall said the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act was noted to have had “a few deficiencies” and therefore it was necessary to “strengthen how that act works by way of updating definition and amending the list of scheduled offences”.
Marshall explained that as part of changes under the Financial Services Commission Act, individuals who wish to acquire shares of more than ten per cent in an entity would have to seek approval from the Financial Services Commission (FSC).
“This is especially important as we have individuals who are engaged in funding terrorism and so on taking controlling interest in many companies.
“We are a long way from Sri Lanka but the events of Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka must give the world pause because it is clear that terrorism continues to be a blight on modern-day humanity,” Marshall said.
The Attorney General pointed out that wealthy individualswere severely affected.
During his contribution to the debate St Michael West Central MP Ian Gooding-Edghill called for more categories of individuals be put under greater scrutiny as politically exposed individuals, arguing that this would further prevent money laundering and financing of terrorism.
“I only hope that the political class is not the only class that will continue to be pursued in tis respect. I hope that oversight will be given to other classes as well . . . perhaps we need to expand the scope so that we hold others accountable as well as we are held to that very high standard,” he said.