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SVG did nothing wrong in Manafort indictment matter – Camillo Gonsalves

SVG did nothing wrong in Manafort  indictment matter – Camillo Gonsalves

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St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) did nothing wrong in the Paul Manafort indictment matter.

This point was reiterated yesterday by Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Economic Planning, Sustainable Development, Industry, Information and Labour, in a post made on his Facebook page hours after Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted on money laundering, with two SVG registered companies being named in the indictment.

Stating that his post was “unofficial,” Gonsalves said SVG did nothing wrong in terms of how things were handled.

“…In fact we did everything right. Every “I” dotted, every “t” crossed”.

He said that SVG cooperated with the USA’s FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the US Department of Treasury) and the US Department of Justice.

“I want to thank and congratulate our FIU (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Financial Intelligence Unit) and our FSA (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Financial Services Authority) for their active cooperation with the USA’s FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the US Department of Treasury) and the US Department of Justice. If not for their contact, communication and disclosure well before this indictment was issued, the indictment would not look like it does now,” stressed Gonsalves in his post.

He added that the indictment does not reveal a single crime committed in SVG or any action that is a crime under SVG law.

“This is about allegations of Manafort’s violations of US laws,” said Gonsalves, who urged persons to download and read the indictment.

“Basically, Manafort allegedly took money for work he did for the Ukrainian Government and bought property and services with that money. Why would this be illegal? (1) because he did not register with the USA as a Foreign Agent, as required by US law; (2) because he did not disclose to the US that he had foreign bank accounts; and (3) because he made false statements about being a Foreign Agent or having foreign accounts. (Of course, he also allegedly didn’t pay taxes on his earnings, but tax evasion is not a count in the indictment).

“In other words, Manafort’s alleged crimes were his failure to tell the US government things that he was legally required to tell them,” explained Gonsalves.

He added, “For example, take a look at the “money laundering” charge in the indictment…. It says Manafort transmitted the proceeds of an unlawful activity. But the unlawful activity was simply acting as an unregistered Foreign Agent under the US’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). There is no such crime in SVG law. Manafort or his employers did nothing wrong under SVG, Cypriot, or international law.”

Gonsalves said that similarly, Manafort is accused of not disclosing foreign bank accounts to the US Government and, again, that is his responsibility under US law, not SVG or international law.

The Minister noted that in SVG, two international business companies were legally set up, completely legal and those IBC’s received money from overseas, legitimate sources, completely legal.

“Money from those IBC’s was used to legally buy goods and services in the USA – completely legal. If you believe the indictment, Manafort’s problem looks like he was breaking the law for receiving money from a foreign government without registering as a Foreign Agent, that he was hiding the existence of his accounts illegally, that he wasn’t paying US taxes, and that he lied to the Government when they started asking him questions about it. In other words, Manafort’s alleged crimes were all committed in the USA. nowhere else,” stressed Gonsalves in his Facebook post.

“The indictment alleges that more than [$75 million] flowed through offshore accounts. It lists over $20 million in transactions. Only $1.4 million of those seem to be related in any way to SVG,” Gonsalves said.

He said that this is a case of the cooperation between FIU and FinCEN working perfectly, as well as our compliance with our obligations under the relevant Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties.

“I don’t know what will become of Mr Manafort’s legal troubles, but I know that SVG proved itself once again to be a well-regulated and fully cooperative offshore financial jurisdiction….”