T&T could face blacklist

By: Ucill Cambridge

If Trinidad and Tobago does not comply with recommendations made by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) this country will be at risk of being placed on the financial blacklist next year. The FATF blacklist is the common shorthand description for the FATF’s list of “Non Co-operative Countries or Territories” (NCCTs); ie, countries which are perceived not to be co-operating in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. 
 

If this country does not prosecute anyone involved in white-collar crimes, as early as next year we may find ourselves on the list of non co-operative territories said David West, certified anti-money laundering specialist (Cams). Additionally, this country has been listed as being non-compliant in its monitoring of “politically exposed persons” (PEPs) as recommended by the FATF; a recommendation meant to act as a stopgap for money laundering and fraud by prominent politically connected people.

Trinidad was saved from being blacklisted after it was removed from the enhanced monitoring list in February 2012 after assessment by the Regional Review Group of the FATF. “We were on the enhanced monitoring list, they were watching us and we had to agree to do certain things re, our legislation. But while before it was an issue of passing the legislation, now they are looking at the operational effectiveness of what we have passed,” West said.
 

FATF president Bjørn S Aamo speaking at the EU Conference “Fighting money laundering and terrorist financing—New framework, future challenges” told attending nations that the FATF was now shifting its focus to see if the systems put in place by various countries were working.

 

“The previous assessments have focused more on technical compliance with FATF standards, which was essential if an Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorist Financing (AML/CFT) regime is to have a solid foundation. Now we move to focus much more on effectiveness—does the system work?”

 
The fact that this country has not been able to prosecute anyone for a white-collar crime save and except for the issue pending against Vicki Boodram for money laundering suggests an inefficiency and lack of operational effectiveness either in the legislation or legislative system. The determination on the effectiveness of this country’s laws and system and whether we will be blacklisted or not will be made when this country comes up for review in the fourth quarter of 2014. Being blacklisted affects the country at all levels.
 

“At the political level, big businesses, the regular citizen, we all stand to be affected,” West said.

“Especially the business and banking community; let’s say a company wants to order goods from the United States in order to conduct business, whereas in a normal scenario the bank would automatically release the funds for the transaction, with the blacklisting the US banks will have to conduct enhanced due diligence on the company. What that does is cause a delay in the transaction, but also, they can simply refuse outright to do business with the company altogether not wanting to get what is perceived as being dirty money into their system. Being blacklisted suggests that there is a considerable amount of dirty money within the country’s economy.”