Attorney General Dale Marshall today made a strong case for the European Union (EU) to come to the negotiating table on its recent decision to blacklist Barbados’ regulatory regime to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
In a statement, Marshall argued that the move was both “unjust and regrettable” and insisted that before taking action to harm the island’s economy and reputation, it should have had “full, fair, and frank exchanges to reach an amicable resolution”.
He said: “[Barbados] is therefore calling upon the EU, particularly the officials of the Directorate-General for Fiscal Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets (DG FISMA), to engage in meaningful dialogue with Barbados and other nations which are in similar positions prior to October 2020, with a view to their removal from this blacklist.”
On May 7, the EU blacklisted Barbados, Bahamas, Jamaica, along with Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama and Zimbabwe.
It said that under the Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD), the European Commission had revised its list, taking into account developments at international level since 2018 and that the “new list is now better aligned with the lists published by the FATF (Financial Action Task Force).
The AG said that since June 2018, Barbados had completed comprehensive reforms of the national AML/CFT framework, including significant legislative and policy amendments
Earlier this year, Barbados and the Financial Action Task Force agreed on an Action Plan that placed it on a monitoring list, allowing the country time to demonstrate the effectiveness of the changes, he said.
Marshall continued: “Barbados signalled its intention to the process and completion of the Plan by sending a letter of high-level political commitment to the President of the FATF. The EU would be aware of this as it is a partner to the region, and Barbados, through its participation in the work of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the FATF.
“We wish to emphasise that the FATF has not placed Barbados on its list of high-risk jurisdictions.”
The AG further chided the EU for taking the action at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, describing it as “insensitive and inconsiderate, particularly as Barbados was given no prior warning or opportunity for engagement”.
Marshall added: “This unilateral action is made even more egregious by the apparent lack of transparency in the EU’s process and methodology for listing under their AML rules. The EU purports to foster greater collaboration between the FATF and the so-called “high-risk third countries”. However, its recent action is more likely to achieve the opposite, distracting “high-risk third countries” from pursuing FATF standards to defending themselves from the EU.”
The Attorney General maintained the country will not be distracted and will continue to provide the FATF with regular progress reports on the implementation of the Action Plan and its engagement with the FATF Secretariat in Paris.