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Strengthening Financial Intelligence Unit MOT vital to St. Maarten complying with Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce rules

FRIDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2012

PHILIPSBURG–“Further strengthening” of the Financial Intelligence Unit MOT is one of the vital areas government must address to comply with the fifteen recommendations on which the country is lagging, based on a recent mutual evaluation carried out by the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce (CFATF).

Justice Minister Roland Duncan told the press on Wednesday that the country is “not in danger of being blacklisted” by the international community for financial and tax issues. However, the government has until May 2013 to respond to CFATF on how it intends to comply with the 15 recommendations and to present an action plan.
The Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten “needs to step up to the plate better” and government needs “to tweak laws” to help with compliance. The law amendments are “a long” process.

CFATF and the United Nations Security Council have put together 40 recommendations and nine core recommendations for every country to carry out to combat financial crime, terrorism and money-laundering.

Duncan, Finance Minister Roland Tuitt, a Central Bank delegation and other government representatives were in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, recently and “put up a fight” against the evaluation in the CFATF review group and at the plenary session.

Duncan said one of the key reasons put forward was that Curaçao, which has similar laws and shared law enforcement with St. Maarten, had received a more favourable review than St. Maarten.

He said he believed the results of the review had a lot to do with the country’s constitutional system “not being understood” and the fact that if documents and reports are not submitted in English or Spanish the country is deemed non-compliant.

He said the St. Maarten delegation had learned during the meeting that other Caribbean countries were in worse shape in terms of living up to the recommendations and some were facing serious actions from CFATF.

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