TT faces financial blacklisting
By RICHARDSON DHALAI Monday, March 17 2014
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IN WINNERS ROW: Her Excellency Reema Carmona, (centre) wife of President Anthony Carmona, stands with April Francis, left and Ted John, right, winners...
FORMER interim head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIUTT), attorney David West, has warned that Trinidad and Tobago could be blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) if it fails to comply with FATF’s recommendations on money-laundering.
Speaking at the launch of the local chapter of Global Organisation of Parliamentarians against Corruption (GOPAC) at Soong’s Great Wall Restaurant, Circular Road, San Fernando, on Saturday, West said not only was money-laundering rampant in Trinidad and Tobago, but there has been no convictions or investigations into the illegal activity.
West spoke on the topic: “Money laundering and how it impacts on parliamentarians.”
“Money laundering is rife in Trinidad, it is happening,” he stressed.
In attendance were former members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, including David Abdulah, Mary King, Subhas Panday and Lyndira Oudit.
Only two sitting parliamentarians, La Brea MP Fitzgerald Jeffrey and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner attended the meeting.
West said this country had no recorded convictions against anyone for money-laundering nor was there any debate on the issue in either Houses of Parliament.
“We have no convictions in Trinidad and Tobago of money- laundering and there is no parliamentary debate. What are the parliamentarians doing? They are sleeping on the job and we as the purse-keepers, have to realise that and we have to do something about it,” he said.
West said TT was due to be evaluated by the FATF in January 2015, reminding them that this country was almost blacklisted in 2011 as it did not possess the required legislation to combat money-laundering.
“We are going to be evaluated. We are going to be the first country to have a fourth round of evaluation come January 2015, and right now, the last evaluation was poor, and, the third evaluation failed terribly. That was when we were almost blacklisted and we had to pass legislation like crazy, and we finally were able to satisfy the Task Force that we were doing something. But now, in the fourth round evaluation where we now have the legislation, what they want to see is that it becomes operational,” he stressed.
According to West, the FATF wanted to see the legislation working and the only way this could be done was by investigations and convictions.
West later explained that once a country was blacklisted, it would face regular evaluations from the FATF which would also issue bulletins to other countries about the blacklisted country’s status. “If we do not come up to scratch, we will go back on the International Country Risk Guide list and we will be monitored more often than once every six months.”
He said TT faced the risk of this happening. Adding that not only will the country be affected but also citizens.
“So for example, you can’t go to Miami and shop using one set of credit cards because we don’t know where these credit cards come from and where your money comes from. So it hits the person... the man in the street.