RESPONSE TO THE US INCSR REPORT 2015 BY THE ONDCP
The ONDCP rejects the claims in the United States 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) that “Antigua and Barbuda remains a significant or substantial offshore center which continues to be vulnerable to money laundering and other financial crimes.”
The ONDCP also rejects the validity of references attributed to it in the 2015 INCSR. These references are selective and taken out of context and, therefore, convey an inaccurate and misleading impression of the Antigua and Barbuda jurisdiction.
Given the quantum of resources invested in anti-money laundering efforts by Antigua and Barbuda, and the small size of currency transactions emanating from the country, it is not possible for any reasonable adjudicator to declare Antigua and Barbuda “a major money laundering jurisdiction”.
In 2014, Antigua and Barbuda was removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Review process because it was in full compliance. Similarly, the Caribbean Financial Task Force (CFATF) in its 2014 report stated its satisfaction with the progress the jurisdiction has made – and is making – to comply with Recommendations for improvement of its anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing system.
These international and regional assessments of Antigua and Barbuda by the authorized and competent bodies are at complete variance with the US INCSR.
The INCSR 2015 claims that Antigua and Barbuda “remains a substantial offshore center.” But, it is an established fact that the offshore sector—comprising of a handful of banks and a few Gaming companies—is one of the smallest within the Caribbean.
The Report also attributes to the ONDCP a comment that: “There are few successful investigations, prosecutions, and convictions”. However, ONDCP is perfectly aware that it has secured a number of money laundering convictions. During the past three years, 56 matters have been referred for investigations; fifteen remain under investigation; sixteen are before the courts; three have been dismissed, seven have been shelved, one withdrawn, and fourteen both criminal and civil have been successfully completed.
Over the past several years, counter narcotics efforts have seized over 8,500 lbs of Cannabis and prevented more than 1.6 tonnes of Cocaine from transiting our shores, destined for other markets.
The Antigua and Barbuda money laundering laws are comprehensive and up to international standards; further, examinations of financial institutions by the Financial Compliance Unit and the FSRC reveal an acceptable degree of rigour with which the law is being enforced.
Against this background, it remains baffling why the U.S. arbitrarily places Antigua and Barbuda on its list of “Jurisdictions of Primary Concern”