Gov’t to seek clarity on money laundering report

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The government will be writing to the United States to seek clarity on the 2018 US International Narcotics Control Strategy report naming Antigua and Barbuda among major money laundering centres in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin confirmed this yesterday after he was contacted by OBSERVER media.

“I shall be speaking with the Ambassador, Ronald Sanders, and ask him to make inquiries on behalf of the government,” he said.

“This is most unfortunate; we go to Parliament so often, we regulate every law, we make every amendment that is required of us and I shall pursue this matter to get the situation corrected. So Antigua and Barbuda will do what we have to do to regularize the situation.”

This is not the first year that Antigua and Barbuda has been named on the list. The US gave the same rating to the twin-island Caribbean nation last year, saying narcotics trafficking, gaming and firearms trafficking are major sources of illicit funds in Antigua and Barbuda. 

It added that funds are laundered through the purchase of real estate, vehicles, vessels, and jewelry as well as through a variety of businesses.

Benjamin, however, shared his dismay in the revelation of this new report as, according to him, the government has taken a number of measures to rectify the matter.

“I do not know how, by what means, by what records, by what yardstick they chose to come to that conclusion but what I can tell you is that this country has done everything possible, has complied with every requirement to regularize our systems in the state. And we will ask questions as to by what means, by what methods they came to this conclusion.”

Benjamin also responded to the point where the only Caribbean/Central American countries left off the 2018 list were the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico along with Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana.

“All the countries in this region excluding the US territories and British and French territories have in fact been listed. That is most unfortunate. We shall look into it and find out what is really happening in this regard,” Benjamin said.

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