St. Maarten one step closer to averting FATF blacklisting

PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten came one step closer to being compliant with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and avoiding being publicly listed as a jurisdiction with weak measures to combat money-laundering and terrorism-financing on Friday when Members of Parliament (MPs) unanimously passed the National Ordinance amending the Penal Code in connection with the implementation of some urgent international obligations.
  All 12 of the MPs who attended the meeting voted in favour of the motion. There were no votes against. Voting in favour of the motion were United St. Maarten Party (US Party) MPs Rolando Brison and Frans Richardson; United Democrats (UD) MPs Sarah Wescot-Williams, Sidharth “Cookie” Bijlani, Jules James and Tamara Leonard; National Alliance (NA) MPs William Marlin, Egbert Jurendy Doran, Christophe Emmanuel, Ardwell Irion and Silveria Jacobs; and Independent MP Dr. Luc Mercelina.
  The passing of the motion brings St. Maarten one step closer to complying with the closer to complying with FATF regulations.
  Noteworthy during the meeting was an amendment tabled by MP Brison, which was later withdrawn after a “note of change” submitted by government and after it became clear that most of the points addressed in the Brison’s amendment were already taken up in the draft.
  In addition to the draft National Ordinance amending the Penal Code, Friday’s meeting was to handle the Draft National Ordinance revising Book 2 of the Civil Code, and the Draft National Ordinance establishing a new Penal Procedure Code.
  Caretaker Prime Minister Wycliffe Smith said at the start of the meeting that government had received the various reports of the Central Committee meetings on these ordinances. The reports contained all the remarks and questions posed by the various factions, and government had sent Parliament its reaction to all of these reports.
  “Government would like to thank the Members of Parliament for all their input. And of course, government has taken good note of the questions. It must be understood that most, if not all, questions of Parliament, have been answered in full by government, orally on record and in writing, and they have been also substantiated with other documents.”
  The FATF recommendations are the internationally endorsed, global standards against money-laundering and terrorism-financing. These standards increase transparency and enable countries to successfully take action against illicit use of their financial systems.
  These global standards are the basis upon which all countries, big or small, should meet the shared objective of tackling money-laundering and terrorism-financing. The FATF calls upon all countries to effectively implement these measures in their national systems.
  If St. Maarten is not fully compliant with the FATF recommendations by November, this could result in the country being publicly listed as a jurisdiction with weak measures to combat money-laundering and terrorism-financing.
  According to FATF Recommendation 19, there are two (potential) actions other countries and financial institutions abroad should take against a listed jurisdiction:
  “Financial institutions should be required to apply enhanced due diligence measures to business relationships and transactions with natural and legal persons, and financial institutions, from countries for which this is called for by the FATF. Financial institutions should limit business relationships or financial transactions with the identified country or persons in that country.
  “Government wants to emphasise that these enhanced due diligence measures and/or countermeasures can have far-reaching financial-economic consequences for not only individuals or financial and non-financial companies, but also for the everyday business of government and, therefore, for the St. Maarten society as a whole. The negative impact of being negatively listed on our financial sector and economy should not be underestimated or neglected,” Smith said.
The Daily Herald

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