Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday that Government's exuberance in trying to get its choice as the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit—firstly by acting illegally since February of this year and secondly by fighting down the Public Service Commission in its appointment—puts the country in danger of being blacklisted.
Rowley was commenting on a report that Trinidad and Tobago had been blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at a press conference held at the Opposition Leader's office, in Port of Spain yesterday.
However, an international report of a threat of blacklisting arose out of statements of France President Nicholas Sarkozy, that the G20 group blacklist countries for failing to implement proper taxation laws.
Rowley said the behaviour of the Government was the greatest threat to this country being blacklisted.
"So if the information is true that we have been blacklisted, I am not surprised. What FATF wants to see is an FIU, at arms length from the political directorate and the illegal appointment of a head does not square with the need to have an independent unit where the political directorate cannot be seen to be guiding it in the way that is happening in Trinidad and Tobago."
Rowley said the Government gave a commitment to FATF that it would have in place a permanent director by June of this year.
He said of the 19 things the country has to comply with to be FATF compliant, 16 were done by the People's National Movement (PNM) government.
He said Government, having given the commitment to have a substantive appointment made to the post of Director by June, has allowed the situation to drift on to November.
"The Service Commission has done its work and presented the matter to the Prime Minister, facing, what we are calling, a capricious use of the veto, so as to control the appointment. This was entirely avoidable and I hold the PM personally responsible for this development," he said.