Lawmakers on Friday approved close to a million dollars in fees for consultants to help the Government comply with international money laundering and terrorism finance rules.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Dale Marshall led the debate in the Chamber before the Standing Finance Committee to approve a supplementary grant of $840,000 from the Consolidated Fund, the Government’s war chest.
He said the money was needed to ensure that the country was compliant with the Financial Action Task Force’s requirements to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.
Marshall told the House Committee: “This money is for the purpose of covering part of the fees of a consultancy contract that the Government of Barbados through my ministry has entered into with the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists.
“The context for this is to support the skills of the Barbadians who are engaged in addressing the issues raised by the Financial Action Task Force in our last report. This Chamber would have heard the challenges that we are currently facing with the Financial Action Task Force.”
The AG said that although the country is in an arrangement with the FATF to be compliant within two years, his ministry is working towards an early completion.
He explained: “The FATF has given us two years to complete the process. The process has been consultative. We had a meeting with their side. Some of the practical difficulties have had to do with our court system.
“The FATF said: ‘Well we want to see convictions.’ They operate on the misguided assumption that in order to show you are fighting something you must show you have convictions.
“Our approach is very different. We feel if you are successful in fighting it the number of convictions that we could have would be few.”
The Government’s chief legal officer said Barbados was forced to comply with the FATF given commitments which pre-date the current administration.
He said: “When we came to office in 2018 we saw Barbados getting very poor ratings in the report. We were actually below in many categories. Our tasks therefore required us to immediately set about raising the standard of Barbados in terms of compliance.
“Just as we did with tax matters we spent a lot of time and effort to bring to this Chamber a raft of amendments to various pieces of legislation all of which were intended to hone in on all those deficiencies that existed within the context of our money laundering and anti-terrorism fight.”
Friday’s session was the final sitting before Parliament is to be prorogued. Prime Minister Mia Mottley said that Parliament’s new session is to resume on Tuesday, September 15 with a new Throne Speech.