PM Addresses Reported Deficiencies in Belize Against Money Laundering and Terrorism
Last week the Caribbean Financial Task Force cited Belize for deficiencies in meeting the international standards of fighting money laundering and terrorism. Prime Minister Dean Barrow addressed the matter.
RT. HON. DEAN BARROW
“That one is more serious than the EU situation and that one is also more problematic. We passed a raft of legislative measures in order to try to achieve the degree of compliance required but let’s be clear, the big countries are hypocrites; they don’t practice what they preach. They tell you what you have to do; they talk about harmful tax competition; they talk about this, they talk about that; they talk about knock off counterfeit goods, what is the name of the place in New York? Canal Street or China Town….the point is that in passing the legislation that we did, we had to try to steer a careful course; we recognize that these big countries and that their proxies, their agencies are all powerful and can collapse our system. So we can complain, we can denounce them but the fact is that ultimately we have to realize where the power lies. On the other hand, we have people in the financial services sector and offshore sector saying to us that if you go as far as these people are demanding, we are going to shut down the industry. So, it’s a huge balancing act that’s required. Ultimately, I have said to the local people, please, we will try as best we can to protect you as much as we are able but in the end, recognize that the jig will soon be up. It might be unfair but these people won’t stop until they kill off our offshore sector. Bottom line: we have, I believe, another six months. They have made the statement against us but they haven’t black listed us. The drafts person who operates as legal counsel to the Ministry of Finance has been given a job to go back over the list of demands from these people and has been given a mandate to produce the additional legislation that we need and to do the additional things that we need by February. We will go to the house, certainly by the end of January, with the new legislation drafted and ready to be passed and hopefully by February when, remember the Caribbean Action Task Force is a sort of subset of the Financial Action Task Force and the larger body is meeting in February, we want to make sure that we are in full or at least very substantial compliance by February and we will work towards that. So to repeat, I will complain, lament, and send up jeremiads; I will say that these people, ‘di chance we’ but we have no choice but to comply so comply we will.”