St Vincent named among ‘major money laundering’ centres

St Vincent and “all major Caribbean and Central American countries” have been listed as “Major Money Laundering Jurisdictions”.

That’s according to the latest US International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) – Volume Two, dedicated to money laundering – for the year 2018.

The offending countries – listed in alphabetical order – have been identified as follows: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

However, the report says Saint Vincent and the Grenadines continues to make progress with its AML regime. The FIU has a good reputation in the Eastern Caribbean and cooperates with the United States regularly.

It further stated that there are no FTZs, economic citizenship programs, casinos, or internet gaming

As of September 2018, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines reported four international
banks, four international insurance companies, 14 registered agents, 94 mutual funds, 5,676
IBCs, 47 limited liability companies, and 85 international trusts.

IBCs can be incorporated in less than 24 hours from receipt of an application according to the report.

The INCSR states Saint Vincent and the Grenadines reports that drug trafficking, in particular marijuana, is the
main source of illicit funds.

The country is the Eastern Caribbean’s leading producer of marijuana, and narcotics are transferred to speedboats at beaches on the leeward side or on uninhabited Grenadine islands. Couriers carry money through the airport, ports, or other points of entry.

Sometimes, money remitters are used the report stated.

The country has made efforts against drug trafficking by imposing strict penalties. It is also engaged with the Regional Security System to coordinate border control issues and is developing its Coast Guard to cover the coastline. In December 2018, parliament passed legislation legalizing cultivation and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The report also stated that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has comprehensive AML legislation and regulations, including the 2017 Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act and the 2017 Anti-Money Laundering Terrorist
Financing Code. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has KYC and STR regulations.

The 2014 Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Regulations provide for enhanced customer due
INCSR 2019 Volume II Money Laundering 166 diligence and ongoing monitoring for PEPs. In December 2017, the FIU revised its standard operating procedures regarding receipt, processing, and handling of sensitive information and requests.

The main change requires financial analysts to process SARs. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines uses its Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to share information with the United States.

According to the report Saint Vincent and the Grenadines reports that DNFBPs are a focal point for enforcement and

To that end, the country drafted a DNFBP Action Plan for 2019. In August 2018, the FIU appointed a supervisor with the responsibility of overseeing DNFBP compliance.

In February 2018, the FSA, FIU, and Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) signed an MOU to facilitate collaboration, exchange of information, onsite examinations, and training.

In July 2018, the ECCB performed two onsite evaluations of the AML/CFT program. For 2017 to 2018, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines reported four money laundering charges and three convictions. The fourth case has not yet been heard by the High Court.