PM rebuffs US report

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A 2017 US State Department report that gave a scathing assessment of Antigua & Barbuda, has been fiercely rebuffed by Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) Volume II on Money Laundering and Financial Crimes, which was released in March 2017, described the nation’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) as “among the most lax in the world”.

It also highlighted allegations by US prosecutors of a “corruption scandal involving the payout of close to $8 million in bribes by Brazilian construction contractor Odebrecht”.

The mention of the alleged US $8 million in bribes is a doubling of the previous US $4 million bribe alleged. The US report noted that “the corruption allegations involve two high-level officials and two offshore banks in Antigua and Barbuda”.

Browne dismissed the additional $4 million as an error on the part of the document’s authors, and labelled sections of the report “misleading” and “incorrect”.

He said his government is prepared to challenge claims that the country’s CIP “remains among the most lax in the world”.

The Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) leader said in Parliament, on Thursday, that it has written to the US State Department expressing its dismay with the “deception” in the INCSR 2017 report.

Browne quoted a section of the letter which read: “The government of Antigua & Barbuda deeply regrets that the report misrepresents the situation in Antigua & Barbuda with regard to its Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) and its anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism regime.”

More in today’s Daily Observer.

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