CaribWorldNews, WASHINGTON, D.C., Mon. Mar. 2, 2009: The 442.6 sq km island of Antigua and Barbuda continues to hold a spot on the US` list of major money laundering countries.
The latest International Narcotics Control Strategy Report by the U.S. State Department to Congress shows that for the sixth consecutive year, the country of some 82,000 nationals, remained on the watch list.
The report comes on the heels of allegation of a multi-million dollar ponzi scheme, conducted by Antigua`s most famous resident, Sir Allen Stanford, who was knighted by officials there in 2006.
The US`s latest 2009 report continues to post Antigua as a `Jurisdiction of Primary Concern,` meaning that `the country or jurisdiction’s financial institutions engages in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from serious crime.` Analysts stated that while the country has comprehensive legislation in place to regulate its financial sector, it remains susceptible to money laundering due to its offshore financial sector and Internet gaming industry.
`Illicit proceeds from the transshipment of narcotics and from financial crimes occurring in the U.S. also are laundered in Antigua and Barbuda,` stated the 2009 report, released on Friday.
US officials urged that Antigua & Barbuda pursue continued efforts to enhance the capacity of law enforcement and customs authorities to recognize money laundering typologies that fall outside the formal financial sector.
`Continued international cooperation, particularly with regard to the timely sharing of statistics and information related to offshore institutions, and enforcement of foreign civil asset forfeiture orders will likewise enhance Antigua and Barbuda’s ability to combat money laundering,` the report added.
As of 2008, Antigua and Barbuda has eight domestic banks, seven credit unions, seven money transmitters, 18 offshore banks, two trusts, three offshore insurance companies, 2,967 international business corporations (IBCs), and 20 licensed Internet gaming companies. In addition, there are approximately 33 real estate agents, five casinos, and 14 dealers of precious metals and stones. The International Business Corporations Act of 1982 (IBCA), as amended, is the governing legal framework for offshore businesses in Antigua and Barbuda.
The Money Laundering Prevention Act of 1996 (MLPA), as amended, is the cornerstone of Antigua and Barbuda’s anti-money laundering legislation. The MLPA makes it an offense for any person to obtain, conceal, retain, manage, or invest illicit proceeds or bring such proceeds into Antigua and Barbuda if that person knows or has reason to suspect that they are derived directly or indirectly from any unlawful activity. In recent years, the GOAB has frozen approximately $6,000,000 in Antigua and Barbuda financial institutions as a result of U.S. requests and has repatriated approximately $4,000,000. The GOAB has frozen, on its own initiative, over $90,000,000 believed to be connected to money laundering cases still pending in the United States and other countries. The GOAB reported seizing $420,236 in 2006, $14,753 in 2007, and $81,601 in 2008.
Meanwhile, other Caribbean countries making the INSR list of Major Money Laundering Countries for 2009 again this year were The Bahamas, The Cayman Islands, Haiti, The Dominican Republic, Guyana, Barbados, Aruba, Grenada, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the BVI, Anguilla, Suriname, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. – By CWNN Staffwriter