Charlestown Nevis (February 8, 2207)
Premier and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Joseph Parry has given his assurance to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force that the Nevis Island Administration [NIA] is committed to providing enhanced Regulation and Supervision for the financial services of Nevis.
The Premier made the statement at the Nevis Financial Services Regulation and Supervision Department 2007 Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (ALM/CFT) Awareness one day seminar held at the Mount Nevis Hotel on Monday February 5th 2007.
The seminar sought to focus the mutual evaluation program and what is expected from the jurisdiction by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) as well as to draw attention to the importance of the exercise.
In addressing the stakeholders Premier Parry’s presentation focused on “Lessons from the Past”, in which Mr Parry looked at the international climate in that the Nevis Financial sector functions and the experiences faced by the industry over the years.“In June 2000, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issued a list of 15 non-co-operative countries that, for one reason or another, FATF believed were uncooperative in international efforts against money laundering and later terrorist financing. The FATF republished its list of 40 recommendations that was originally contained in its 1990 report and mandated that jurisdictions should implement its policies in relation to Anti-money Laundering. All across the offshore world there was an outcry”, the Premier said.
“When all this was happening, Nevis Financial Services Industry had still been progressing in full swing. During the period January to December 2000, over 3000 International Business Companies (IBC), 1400 Limited Liability Companies (LLC) and 400 Trusts were formed in Nevis. The following year the Nevis Financial Services Industry experienced a drastic slowdown in the number of incorporations and up to today, the industry has never again seen the number of incorporations that it saw in 2000″, he said.
In assessing the situation, Premier Parry said that government realised that by objective standards there was no reason why St. Kitts and Nevis should not comply with the FATF standards for countering money laundering. He said that the government engaged in direct dialogue with the FATF to discuss measures to be taken by the jurisdiction to establish these firewalls. Additionally, police officers received extensive training in preventing, detecting and combating money laundering and other financial crimes.
Mr. Parry said that since the last evaluation in September 2003 and over the 18 months, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis had worked assiduously to implement the majority of the recommendations made by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) examiners. He said that the government had responded to the call of the global community to implement anti terrorist financing measures.
According to Premier Parry a number of important lessons had been learnt and his administration took its responsibilities seriously.
“I would like to implore the regulated businesses here to take the necessary measures to ensure that you are in compliance with the laws and regulation of the country. Each of us has a role to play in the confidence building of the jurisdiction. Each of us has a stake in this Financial Services Industry which remains one of the major pillars of economic development in our country”, he said.
Meantime, Executive Director of the CFATF, Mr Calvin Wilson spoke on the implications of the mutual evaluation programme as a critical mechanism for monitoring compliance with Anti-money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) benchmarks.
Mr. Wilson described the mutual evaluation program and its end result as a beauty pageant where countries in their own best interests put their best foot forward.
“For the individual member, the program presents a valuable opportunity for an objective assessment by a team of experts on the anti money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism framework as it exists at the time of the visit. The program seeks to give due recognition where the standard benchmarks are met, but with a view to securing improvements where necessary, identifies weakness which nave been detected and makes recommendations where they are found to exist”, he said.
Financial Services Commission Chairman of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mr Samuel Nathaniel, presented the topic the role of the Financial Services Commission in Fostering a Culture of Regulatory Compliance within the Federation while Ms. Patricia Reid-Waugh, Regulator Nevis Financial Services Department chaired the opening ceremony and presented the topic, International Benchmarks vs. Observed Practices.