Saturday, October 20, 2012

T&T no longer under international FATF monitoring

The International Financial Action Task Force (FATF) agreed on Friday to remove Trinidad & Tobago from its monitoring process because it is satisfied that the country has made significant progress in its anti money laundering vigilance.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar made the announcement in the House of Representatives.

"I am pleased to announce today, Friday October 19, 2012, that at the FATF Plenary in Paris, France, FATF has agreed that Trinidad and Tobago should be removed from the list of countries with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies. Trinidad and Tobago has therefore exited the FATF process," she told legislators.

"This means that we have been removed from the grey list. It means that we are not going to be put on any blacklist. It means that we are not going to be placed on any yellow, brown or green list," she added.

She gave a chronology of the relevant developments in this matter, noting that in February 2010 the FATF publicly identified Trinidad & Tobago as a country with "strategic Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies".

She said this was the result of an evaluation in which the FATF identified 15 of the FATF's 16 key and core recommendations in which Trinidad and Tobago was rated as partially compliant or non-compliant.

"When this Government assumed office in May 2010, the complexity of this matter was brought to my government’s attention. What we inherited was embarrassing. The FIU was not operational and had no staff.

"An Attorney from private practice who was a private consultant to the Office of the AG had been appointed to "act" as the interim director...There was little or no staff and the legislative framework was defective," she explained.

"Trinidad and Tobago at that juncture stood on the brink of being “blacklisted” by the FATF...As Prime Minister, I made a high level political commitment to the Financial Action Task Force and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force ensuring Trinidad and Tobago will continue working assiduously in addressing our identified AML/CFT deficiencies.

"I made that commitment immediately on it being brought to my attention as the new government and we are committed as a nation to addressing those deficiencies..

"As a responsible Government...we chose to take deliberate steps to ensure that immediate action was taken to remedy these deficiencies," Persad-Bissessar said.
She added that she asked the national security minister to devote all necessary resources to ensure that the strategic deficiencies identified by FATF were addressed expeditiously to prevent further blacklisting of the country. Part of the plan included the appointment a National AML/CFT Committee comprising several senior cabinet Ministers and high-level technocrats in November 2010. 

"This Committee continues to guide Government's policy in respect of compliance with our international obligations and is a vital cog in our national AML/CFT regime and continues to strengthen our AML/CFT compliance," she said.

The PM said the Ministry of National Security, the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Finance recommended amendments to the relevant legislation. The amended pieces of legislation are:

  • The Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (Amendment) Act 2011
  • The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act 2011
  • Trafficking in Persons Act, 2011
  • The Financial Obligation (Financing of Terrorism) Regulations, 2011
  • The Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago Regulations, 2011
  • The Miscellaneous Provisions (Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago and Anti-Terrorism) Act, 2012 
Persad-Bissessar said following a meeting in February 2011 a Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) high level Mission the Government reiterated its commitment to achieve further compliance with the international financial standards set by FATF. 

In June 2012, the FATF agreed that Trinidad and Tobago had made significant progress in rectifying its AML/CFT deficiencies such that an onsite visit was warranted to ensure that the progress reported by technocrats at the FATF Plenaries had in fact been made and were sustainable.

The FATF conducted a comprehensive onsite review in Trinidad during the period August 28-29, 2012, meeting with senior public and private stakeholders with responsibility for implementing the AML/CFT regime.

The Prime Minister thanked the Attorney General, the Minister of National Security and the Minister of Finance for their "tireless efforts that led to this successful outcome".

She also thanked the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, the Ministry of Finance in particular, the Financial Intelligence Unit and all other public and private stakeholders and institutions that have made worthwhile and invaluable contributions to this de-listing.

"I also pay tribute to all the hard working public officers whose dedication to country and duty made this wonderful result a reality...This success confirms my government's commitment to fight crime at any and all levels...
We want to thank all those from private and public sector who participated.

"I therefore take great pride in informing the nation that FATF has recognised that significant progress has been made in rectifying our AML/CFT deficiencies," Persad-Bissessar stated.

"The laws have been strengthened, and it is now up to us to enforce them. 
There are too many reports of money-laundering. Suspicious bank accounts are being monitored and reported by the banks. 

"The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has its work cut out for them. It is time for action, and those who are involved in money-laundering, must know that they can run, but they cannot hide," she said.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai