The Antigua & Barbuda government has sent a diplomatic note to the United States formally registering its objection to a US report that labelled the Caribbean island as “a jurisdiction of primary concern for money laundering,” for the second consecutive year.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the diplomatic note sent to the US State Department “observes that the comments and assertions on Antigua & Barbuda in the INCR 2015 lack any basis in fact and are not based on objective criteria.
“Information in the INCSR sourced from Antigua & Barbuda is taken out of context and is not current. The report characterises Antigua and Barbuda as having a “large” financial sector,” Browne told Parliament.
In its INCSR (International Narcotics Control Strategy Report) for 2015, Washington defined a major money laundering country as one “whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking”.
But it said the complex nature of money laundering transactions now makes it difficult in many cases to distinguish the proceeds of narcotics trafficking from the proceeds of other serious crime.
“Moreover, financial institutions engaging in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds of other serious crime are vulnerable to narcotics-related money laundering.”
Washington said that this year’s list of major money laundering countries recognizes this relationship by including all countries and other jurisdictions, whose financial institutions engage in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from all serious crime.
But Prime Minister Browne said that whether or not a large financial sector is per se considered to be an international risk, the fact is that by any measure, assets, turnover, employment or registered entities, the financial sector in Antigua & Barbuda is small.
“Indeed it is better characterised as “tiny”. If all the assets and transactions of the financial services sector are taken together, they would not amount to 0.001 per cent of the world’s financial assets. They could pose no international risk.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)