Remember what put us on the FATF list
In Parliament on Friday, the Prime Minister announced that Trinidad and Tobago was no longer on the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) list of countries with deficiencies with respect to measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
She made this announcement with great fanfare and said it was a great achievement for a little country like Trinidad. However, she omitted to tell the population that much smaller countries in the Caribbean—such as Barbados, St Kitts, St Lucia and St Vincent, with far less technical and financial resources at their disposal, have been off the FATF list for years, while Trinidad and Tobago has, over the last two years, struggled to meet the FATF requirements.
The Prime Minister also omitted to tell the population the reason Trinidad and Tobago was placed on the FATF list in late 2010 after the general election was that the new People's Partnership Government failed to follow through with a commitment given to FATF by the previous administration to operationalise the FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) and to put anti-money-laundering regulations in place within a specific time frame.
Additionally, one of the main reasons why it took us two years to come off the FATF list was the unorthodox manner in which the new head of the FIU was initially appointed by the People's Partnership Government and the fact that FATF was concerned it might not be an arms-length appointment.
It is good news that we are finally off the FATF list, but it would have been better if we had not had to deal with the fallout of being placed on the list in the first place.
When I first raised this matter in January 2011, of Trinidad and Tobago being placed on the FATF list of countries with anti-money laundering deficiencies, the new government denied it and threatened to take me to the Privileges Committee. Now we hear that because of its great work, we have now been taken off a FATF list, which in 2011, it denied we were on.
It is also noteworthy that while the Government is celebrating the fact that it took two years to take us off a list that it put us on, Trinidad and Tobago has dropped 18 places in the latest Corruption Perception Index figures—from 73rd position to 91st position in the world—and we are now perceived as a country in 2012 to be as corrupt as Serbia, Bosnia and Albania.
Colm Imbert, MP