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Avoid international fallout!

FID warns of implication if commitments to Caribbean Financial Action Task Force not kept

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 23, 2013    

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OFFICIALS of the Financial Investigations Division are urging the Government to take steps to carry out its commitment to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force to ensure several groups are regulated by November this year or risk seeing the country on a watch list which could scare investors.

"In 2012 [the ministries of] Finance, Foreign Affairs, Justice and National Security made a commitment to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to see these bodies regulated by November this year," Chief technical director of the Financial Investigations Division (FID) Justin Felice told editors and reporters at the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue headquarters in Kingston yesterday.

In 2010, Cabinet approved a list of entities referred to as non-designated businesses and professionals that includes attorneys-at-law, accountants, casinos, real estate brokers, trustees, and dealers in precious stones and metals. As part of CFATF, Jamaica along with its Caribbean counterparts are obligated to implement common countermeasures to address the problem of criminal money laundering.

"Now if we don't do things like that we are going to come up against it, because we have an inspection in 2014 and we will be heavily criticised, and we could end up on a watch list which then stops financial institutions worldwide from doing business with us," Felice said yesterday.

"... If we are on this watch list, basically it says Jamaica is not a safe place to do business. So the implications of not doing some of these things are far-reaching and certainly some of them are linked to the International Monetary Fund agreement as well," he said further.

"What we want is for the powers that be to enact whatever legislation [is necessary] to bring them under the reporting umbrella, and where there would be sanctions for failing to report," principal director of the Financial Crimes Investigations Unit (FCIU) Albert Stephens said at the meeting.

As a member of the CFATF, Jamaica is required to implement the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) 40 recommendations on Anti-Money Laundering and the nine special recommendations on Countering the Financing of Terrorism. Failure to implement these measures puts Jamaica's reputation and the good standing of its financial sector and law-enforcement authorities at serious risk. Failure to implement these measures appropriately could also fundamentally affect Jamaica's chances of successfully launching an international financial services centre.

The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force is an organisation of 29 states within the Central America and Caribbean region which have agreed to implement common countermeasures to address the problem of money laundering and terrorist financing.

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