In an effort to sensitise correspondent banks on the integrity and security of the Citizenship by Investment Programme’s (CIP’s) application and approval process, Prime Minister Gaston Browne, in his capacity as OECS Chair, said that he is willing to assemble a team of government officials, CIP executives, Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism experts and banks to hold joint meetings.
“The CIP programmes are too important to our economies and to the welfare of all, including the banking sector, for us not to run the extra mile that might be necessary to disabuse misconceptions and to build-up confidence in them,” Browne said.
His comments were made in an address at the annual general meeting of the Caribbean Association of Audit Committee Members (CAACM), in light of Caribbean economies continuing to grapple with losing correspondent banking relationships.
He said that collating a team would help to sensitise them on the integrity and security of the CIP application and approval process.
Browne said that the CIPs “which have quite literally saved our economies from decline in the face of poor terms of trade, repeated natural disasters, diminished aid and high costs of imports”, are facing pressure from external forces, and he noted that CIPs involve greater and stronger due diligence on their transactions than other programmes of similar nature.
“The CIP is not unique to the Caribbean. It competes with similar programmes in Europe and North America. Perhaps, that is a reason why, like financial services, it is under assault by external forces…but CIPs involve greater and stronger due diligence on their transactions than apply to others.
“In this regard, I urge Caribbean banks involved in this service to demonstrate to their correspondent banks the extreme care and due diligence used in managing the CIP product. By clear policies and procedures, they should demonstrate why CIPs do not pose a risk to the integrity of correspondent banking relationships,” Browne, who is also the Finance Minister, continued.
He said that despite the safeguards, some correspondent banks have shied away from transactions related to CIPs and is therefore urging Caribbean banks involved in this service to demonstrate to their correspondent banks the extreme care and due diligence used in managing the CIP product.
According to him, showing their clear policies and procedures would demonstrate why CIPs do not pose a risk to the integrity of correspondent banking relationships.
Chairmanship of the OECS Assembly was handed over to Browne on June 16at the opening ceremony of the 67th Meeting of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Authority and the Fourth Sitting of the OECS Assembly