Dale Marshall, Barbados’ attorney general and minister of legal affairs, has condemned the European Union’s blacklisting of his country for not meeting the bloc’ money-laundering standards.
On Tuesday, renowned media outlet Reuters reported that the EU Commission had strongly considered blacklisting Barbados, as well as The Bahamas and Jamaica, for posing “significant threats to the financial system of the [European] Union” on money-laundering grounds due to lax legislation.
Both the United States and the EU have threatened Caribbean countries in the past with de-risking of banking services for not adequately addressing money laundering and terrorist financing concerns.
In fact, banks such as the Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, in the past few years, have allegedly reduced their footprint in the Caribbean to mitigate the threat of derisking.
However, Marshall argues contended that the move amounted to “a little more than a conviction without a trial”.
“We have been given no details of this and, in fact, the first time we are hearing of it is through the overseas press,” the attorney general stated.
He continued: “Even the mighty must abide by the rules of natural justice, and give us an opportunity to be heard. We (Barbados) do not have a seat at their table when our standing is being discussed, and if you say that we are a non-cooperative jurisdiction, then tell us in which areas you consider that we are not cooperating.”
“We will continue undaunted by this to strive for the highest-ranking for our regulatory framework.”— Dale Marshall, attorney general and minister of legal affairs, Barbados
The EU’s approach is no different from how it blacklisted the Caribbean country as a non-compliant tax jurisdiction.
In defence of his country, he said that over the last two years Barbados has “made significant progress towards addressing a number of the recommendations in the mutual evaluation report to improve both technical compliance and effectiveness, including updating the National Risk Assessment and developing mitigating measures.
“Further, an application for upgrades in a significant number of technical compliance ratings is in progress,” the minister said.
While acknowledging that there are areas that need improvement, albeit minor consideration, he said that Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — the international standards-setting body for anti-money laundering and terrorist financing — has recognised the measures implemented by the country.
“We will continue undaunted by this to strive for the highest-ranking for our regulatory framework,” Marshall asserted.