St Vincent and the Grenadines is rubbishing media reports that refer to it as a money laundering destination, following the indictment of two men in the United States who used the Caribbean nation to funnel money.
As international media reported on the indictment of US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a former business associate, Rick Gates, being indicted on Monday on 12 charges of conspiracy against the US, money laundering and several other financial crimes, they suggested that St Vincent and the Grenadines was “notorious for money laundering” and a “prime money laundering destination.”
The descriptions stemmed from the revelation in the indictment that Manafort and Gates owned or controlled two entities incorporated in St Vincent and the Grenadines – Global Endeavour Inc. and Jennet Ltd – which were used in the scheme to hide some of the tens of millions of dollars in income they received as unregistered agents of the former Ukraine government.
In a joint statement, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ National Anti-Money Laundering Committee (NAMLC), the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) said they consider descriptions linking the country with money laundering to be “uninformed, outdated, erroneous and inaccurate” and “particularly damaging to the reputation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.
“The authorities further underscore that there is no basis for such descriptions, particularly as this country is not on any international sanction list as a money laundering haven, nor on any other international sanction list.
“The authorities emphatically refute that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a money laundering jurisdiction, and, on the contrary, wish to point out that this country has for several years been effectively addressing money laundering and financial crimes, as well as responsibly participating in international initiatives aimed at combating money laundering, the financing of terrorism, tax offences and financial crime,” the agencies said.
They also pointed out that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an active member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, the Caribbean arm of the international anti money laundering standard setter, and the OECD Global Forum, the international tax transparency standard setter.
Furthermore, the statement said, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been assessed as being largely compliant in relation to its legal and administrative tax transparency framework and this denotes a responsible and transparent tax jurisdiction.
The country is also compliant with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) – the US initiative to ensure tax reporting by its citizens holding assets outside of the US.
“St. Vincent and the Grenadines continues to be extremely cooperative on the global front, in the investigation and prosecution of money laundering, tax offences and criminal matters,” the statement added.
“St Vincent and the Grenadines takes very seriously the threats posed by money laundering. As a small developing country, St. Vincent and the Grenadines strives to address this transnational crime as a collaborative effort with the help of our international law enforcement partners and regulatory communities, to prevent, identify, punish and detect financial crime.”
The agencies stressed that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has substantively reformed its offshore industry since the early 2000s and presently operates “a very small, well- regulated industry, governed by effective sector specific and general regulatory laws specifically covering anti- money laundering compliance”.