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SVG cooperating with FBI in money laundering probe

SVG cooperating with FBI in money laundering probe


St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has been cooperating with United States authorities since 2013 in the investigation which led to the indictment filed against Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager of President Donald Trump.

A joint statement issued on Monday by the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee (NAMLC), the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) said “since 2013- 2014 and more recently in 2017, the relevant authorities and institutions in St Vincent and the Grenadines have been cooperating with the US authorities in the investigation of the matter at hand and will continue to lend their assistance. The authorities in St Vincent and the Grenadines have thus acted properly in every respect in relation to this matter.”

The local authorities have also vehemently denied the description in the media of SVG being “notorious for money laundering” and a “prime money laundering destination.”

“The stated authorities consider such descriptions linking St Vincent and the Grenadines with money laundering to be uninformed, outdated, erroneous and inaccurate. 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,” said the joint statement.

“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”, said the release from the NAMLC, FIU and the FSA, which was issued Monday. 

“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.  This country is also ‘US FATCA’ compliant, i.e. compliant with the US initiative to ensure tax reporting by its US 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,” said the release. 

“The country’s regulatory laws are up to date, modern and effective as is its regulatory administrative framework which has been put in place to supervise the various regulated sectors, through the FSA. 

“St Vincent and the Grenadines has to date implemented appropriate laws and regulations that require banks and other financial institutions to maintain robust, effective anti-money laundering and other compliance programmes.  This country has also made considerable progress in ensuring a properly regulated and supervised offshore and financial industry,” the release explained.

“The relevant authorities consider the aforementioned descriptions in the international media to be particularly damaging to the reputation of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“It appears that reliance may have been placed on historical information about this country’s ‘blacklisted’ status in the year 2000, as well as merely by reason of the operation of an offshore industry, which is popularly perceived as having negative connotations. The global stigma attached to offshore industries should not be broad brushed to this country, as 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.” 

It was noted that at all material times, appropriate customer due diligence and customer verification procedures were undertaken in relation to the company formed in SVG which was referenced in the international media.

“The authorities note that even the most effective systems around the world sometimes may not prevent a criminal intention to commit fraudulent or money laundering activities, especially where legitimate names and business are utilized to incorporate a company or establish a business relation.

“The authorities recognize that this is so notwithstanding that satisfactory customer due diligence and customer verification procedures are obtained. Thus, having effective systems of sharing of information and cooperation in the investigation of money laundering and criminal matters have also been at the forefront of this jurisdiction’s efforts over the past years.”

The release ended by stating that SVG remains committed to ensuring effective systems to detect, investigate and deter money laundering and also to provide assistance internationally in the investigation and prosecution of money laundering cases.