The European Union flag flies in the wind in front of the economic bloc's office in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo: The Daily Observer)

EU mulls adding Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica to money laundering blacklist

The European Union flag flies in the wind in front of the economic bloc's office in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo: The Daily Observer)

A report by Reuters has claimed that the European Commission is weighing the decision to add The Bahamas, Barbados and Jamaica to a blacklist of countries that have failed to properly treat with money laundering and terrorist financing.

The move forms part of the commission’s efforts “to intensify its scrutiny of states posing money-laundering risks,” the article states adding that it is also “looking into creating a new body to help police financial crime and monitor banks more strictly”.

Come tomorrow, the European Commission will add Panama to a blacklist of countries found non-compliant with the bloc’s money laundering guidelines, according to the report. That list already includes Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Pakistan and other war-affected Middle Eastern countries.

In addition, based on documents reviewed by the media outlet, the European Union has drafted a proposal for the establishment of a body, by 2023, empowered to investigate banks and impose sanctions.

The documents revealed further that the EU has revised its blacklist to include some 22 countries that “pose significant threats to the financial system of the Union” because of failings in tackling money laundering and terrorism financing.

In addition to the Caribbean countries, the list also includes Mauritius, Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, and Zimbabwe.

Responding to the news, Jamaica’s Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke noted that the potential blacklisting is due to a reclassification exercise conducted by the European Commission.

Jamaica’s Minister Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke (Photo: JIS)

“It is not good news that the European Union blacklisted Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, Barbados and The Bahamas,”  the St Kitts-Nevis Observer quotes Clarke.

He explained further that the EU’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF) first placed Jamaica on a grey list back in February after identifying shortcomings in measures to prevent money laundering and/or terrorist financing, and based on the size of Jamaica’s economy.

“In 2019, FATF arbitrarily changed this measure to what is known as M3, which is a broader measure of the economy. This arbitrary change meant that, for the first time, Jamaica exceeded the US$5-billion threshold, which meant Jamaica would be included in the list of countries that FATF would focus on and monitor, a process known as ‘greylisting’,” the minister said.

Also commenting on the development, Attorney General of The Bahamas Carl Bethel stated, “The Bahamas regrets the apparent decision of the EU Commission to signal an intention to add The Bahamas to a blacklist which the EU Parliament mandates that the commission maintains.”

Attorney General of The Bahamas Carl Bethel (Photo: Twitter @CaribbeanNewsNetwork)

However, the Bahamas’ chief legal officer disputed that the EU failed to provide adequate notice of the listing, which the bloc has committed to doing.