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Story Highlights

  • “How we facilitate offshore banking in the region; how we facilitate beneficial ownership, that is accounts where you have a certain amount of secrecy and non-disclosure, are critical questions”
  • The CFATF comprises 27 States in the Caribbean Basin, Central and South America that have agreed to implement common countermeasures to address money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Attorney General for Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Faris Al-Rawi, says countries in the Caribbean must stand together in addressing the global threat of financial terrorism.

He argued that failure to act could result in international agencies stepping in to monitor the region’s financial activities.

“It is important that there is a mutual commitment from all countries dealing with these issues lest we find ourselves in the position where someone else deals with it for us,” he said.

The Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General said that by taking a united approach, the region would signal to the international observers and those that offer financial guidance “that we are to be taken into regard as a whole because we can only have advocacy if we advance those purposes together.”

Mr. Al-Rawi was responding to questions from journalists at the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Plenary and Working Groups Meeting at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St. James on June 8.

Noting that there is a “very real risk” of terrorist financing in the region, he said it is incumbent that systems are in place to protect financial institutions from being infiltrated.

“One only needs to look at the Panama Papers. Panama is not too far away from us,” he pointed out.

“How we facilitate offshore banking in the region; how we facilitate beneficial ownership, that is accounts where you have a certain amount of secrecy and non-disclosure, are critical questions,” he added.

“If you look to any of the international financial centres that are strong financial earners, you will see that there are opportunities that persons with bad intentions would want to exploit,” Mr. Al-Rawi noted further.

The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that reveal information about the dealings of a number of high-level individuals worldwide with offshore financial centres.

Mr. Al-Rawi, who is Chairman of the CFATF, commended Jamaica on its proactive anti-money laundering and antiterrorism approach, saying that the country has been praised by a number of international partners.

Jamaica has put legislation in place such as the Proceeds of Crime Act and the Terrorism Prevention Act, with attendant regulations.

The Bank of Jamaica and the Financial Services Commission (FSC) are the primary regulatory bodies for the prevention and detection of money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

The CFATF Working Groups Meeting, from June 6-9, facilitated discussions on measures to battle money laundering, terrorism financing, corruption and other financial crimes across the Caribbean Basin.

It was attended by more than 10 Attorneys General and Ministers of Government from the region, senior public-sector officials and other delegates from around the world.

The CFATF comprises 27 States in the Caribbean Basin, Central and South America that have agreed to implement common countermeasures to address money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The group is the regional affiliate of the Financial Action Task Force, which is the global umbrella entity that provides directives for anti-money laundering.