PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten is making the necessary legislative changes to laws to combat its listing as a “Major Money Laundering Jurisdiction”.
The latest US International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), volume two, dedicated to money laundering includes St. Maarten, Curaçao and Aruba on a list of Caribbean and Central American countries as “Major Money Laundering Jurisdictions” for the year 2018.
When asked about the matter on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said “the legislation identifying all the areas we have been told about by the FATF [Financial Action Task Force, Ed.] – the group was here and they had discussions with the Council of Ministers and we have made the necessary changes in laws that have to be implemented and it is at Parliament for discussion.”
Other countries on the list are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.
In fact, the only Caribbean/Central American countries left off this year’s INCSR are the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, both US protectorates, along with Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana, all three of them overseas departments of France.
The US even added itself to the list of major money laundering jurisdictions along with the United Kingdom, Spain and The Netherlands, all three founding members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The latter works closely with the European Union (EU) on tax-avoidance issues and creating the “Tax Haven Blacklist” that seeks to first “name and shame” and then penalise countries that it has found to be tax havens and money laundering centres.
The US is a founding member of FATF, the international financial crimes watchdog that also works in conjunction with OECD on tax avoidance and tax fraud related matters. The INCSR also stated in its report “that the development and implementation of effective Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regimes, consistent with international standards and the ability to meet evolving challenges is clearly vital to the maintenance of solvent, secure and reliable financial, commercial and trade systems.”
It furthermore said this law enforcement’s objective is consistent with the US’ “2018 national security strategy and the 2017 executive order 13773, enforcing federal law with respect to transnational criminal organizations and preventing international trafficking.”
The report also mentions the work its parent governmental agency the US State Department, through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (BINALA), has done regarding bi- and multi-lateral cooperative efforts to strengthen criminal justice systems and law enforcement agencies around the world.