Parliament Gives Nod to Money Laundering Legislation

Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC):

The Antigua and Barbuda Parliament has given the green light to the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act even as government and opposition legislators complained of the move by developed countries, mainly Europe and the United States, to force small island developing states (SIDS) to forcibly comply with international standards.

Earlier this year, the European Union listed Antigua and Barbuda as one of the countries designated as a non-compliant tax jurisdiction even as St John’s complained of the practice of shifting the goalposts in anti-money laundering policies.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who tabled the legislation, told legislators that the bill is not a matter of “discretionary” policies by his administration, but was mandated by various international agencies to ensure that the Caribbean country does not continue to not adhere to anti-money laundering rules.

“If we were to even utilise the argument of sovereignty and we decided not to make these changes we would be exposing the country to sanctions,” he said, adding “What the Financial Action Task Force and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are recommending is that we use a risk-based approach, so it’s not a situation that all non-profit organisations should be treated with suspicion”.

The legislation calls for non-profit organisations to be included among the organisations which now must follow anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism legislation, including the listing of beneficial owners and directors.

It also requires the establishment of a supervisory authority and regular risk assessment done on non-profit organisations.

Browne said having understood the business and assessed the risk associated with the non-profit organisation, the supervisory authority and its staff could determine whether or not they are likely to represent a significant risk for money laundering and terrorism financing, and in that case, would be required to take the necessary mitigating steps.

“As I said to the attorney general, this matter is so urgent that we are not risking any form of sanctions because we are late. I suggested to the attorney general that we pass the act as is,” he said referring to some issues he still had with the legislation.

“I don’t see why we should be holding up these very urgent changes, while we determine who should be the supervisor,” he added.

You might also like