Last week, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force listed Belize as one of the countries that have failed to comply with the Action Plan addressing legal deficiencies in the fight to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism. This, despite Government passing over a dozen pieces of legislation recently to become compliant. Faced with being blacklisted and having the local banking industry destabilized, the Prime Minister Dean Barrow said on Wednesday that Belize must and will comply, but not without a little kicking and screaming.
Hon. Dean Barrow- Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
“The bottom line, I believe we have another six months. They’ve made the statement again but not blacklisted us. the drafts-person who operates his legal counsel to the Ministry of Finance has been given the job to go back over the list of demands of these people and has been given 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”.
Having earlier complained that larger countries like the United States are “hypocrites” intent on destroying smaller nations, the P.M. admitted that there is not much he can do.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance: “Hopefully by February, (remember the Caribbean Financial Task force is a subset of the Financial Action Task Force, and the larger body is meeting in February). We want to be sure that we are in full, or at least very substantial compliance by February and we will work towards that. So, I will complain, I will lament, I will send out Jeremiahs, I will say that these people…dehn chance we! Unfortunately, at the end of the day, we have no choice but to comply and so, comply we will. The ramifications if we don’t, where correspondent banks will cut off the relationships with local commercial banks and ultimately, they can collapse our commercial banking sector is something we can’t contemplate. So, I can kick and scream, but I will do what they require because I have no choice”.