Antigua & Barbuda’s Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) has refuted recent statements made in the United States 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) where it was suggested the twin-island-state engages in money laundering and that the authorities are not doing enough to address such a crime.
The ONDCP said Antigua & Barbuda’s Anti-money Laundering and Combating Financial Terrorism (AML/CFT) system is recognised “by many” as being robust and an example for others to emulate.
In a press statement, the ONDCP, which is the country’s AML enforcement agency, said it is presently being assessed “for the possibility that it could be held out to others by international authorities as a good example of an anti-money laundering unit.”
The authority added that, like in the US, with present procedures and technologies, it is “virtually impossible” to place an impenetrable AML shield around the legitimate financial system without bringing ordinary financial transactions and the economy to a grinding halt.
“This is why financial institutions are examined by regulators and supervisors to ensure that they have a reasonable anti-money laundering system in place to designed to deter, detect and prevent it, which is unrealistic. The technologies and procedures of today are not foolproof but if sufficiently robust, they can make it a daunting task and an uphill struggle to easily place the proceeds of crime into legitimate financial system and to abuse the system thereafter,” the communiqué read.
The ONDCP also said the US’ conclusion that Antigua & Barbuda is susceptible to money laundering due to its offshore financial sector and Internet gaming industry, “does not say anything profound since all offshore financial sectors are susceptible, including ones in places like Delaware.”
The organisation said the twin-island has undertaken an “enormous” amount of work over the past five years to perfect its AML regime.
According to the ONDCP’s press statement, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) examiners have given Antigua & Barbuda a fully compliant rating in respect of international co-operation with quite positive comments stating that, “The enforceability issues for both the ML/FTG and the CDD Guidelines for IBCs have been corrected. There is now a high level of compliance with the recommendations that were made by the examiners during the third round mutual evaluation.”
In an effort to combat money laundering and other financial crimes, the country introduced or amended several laws in recent years to include the Cooperative Societies’ Act, a new Act repealing the old Cooperative Societies Act, Money Service Business Act, Precursors Chemicals Act, the Migrant Smuggling Prevention Act, the Trafficking in Persons Prevention Act, the Money Laundering Prevention Act, the International Business Cooperation’s Act and the Cooperate Management and Trust Service Provider’s Act.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)