Barbados objects to money laundering label
The Barbados government Tuesday described as misleading the decision by the United States to list the island as a major country for money laundering.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite said that "Barbados is duty bound to state its position on this finding, which it considers to be misleading".
The statement issued by the Office of the Attorney General noted that Bridgetown had become aware of the 2016 report by the US State Department naming Barbados among a number of countries which Washington regards as major money laundering countries.
"In respect of Barbados, the report cited a number of generic methods of money laundering that may be found in any country. While the areas of criminal activity cited are present in the country, Barbados' best intelligence does not support the view that they are at proportions which would have a significant impact on the local economy, or cause the faintest ripple in the international financial sector," he said.
The statement from the Office of the Attorney General noted that the illegal drugs trade is the crime which is of greatest concern in the country.
"This trade gives birth to other criminal activity. For instance, it is believed that the importation and use of unlicensed firearms is closely connected to the drug trade. The drug trade is also the most profitable acquisitive crime on the island; hence, it has potential implications for the financial sector. These threats are understood and are being addressed with some degree of success," Brathwaite said.
The statement said that Barbados has deployed significant resources to combat criminal activity of every description. In particular, major resources have been directed to combating financial crime, including money laundering and fraud.
"This emphasis was thought necessary because the competent authorities have recognized that the trade in illegal drugs and its offshoots have the greatest potential to distort the local economy. However, there is a big gap between potential and actuality. Policies and programmes are in place to ensure that this potential never becomes reality," he added.
The statement noted that local crime is only influenced by external factors to the extent that drugs and firearms are imported into the country.
Brathwaite said "Barbados is not a producer of drugs for export and neither does it manufacture guns. Local criminality may be impacted from abroad, but it has very little prospect of having an external impact, especially on the financial community."
He added that "criminal activity in Barbados is immaterial as far as the international community is concerned. Funds which may be laundered in Barbados are minuscule when measured on the scale of international laundering."
According to Brathwaite, "Barbados is not a world financial centre and, therefore, any larger than usual financial transaction which takes place here will receive immediate attention, both here and abroad. Large-scale launderers know that the place to hide a tree is in the forest. Barbados does not fit that bill."
The statement noted that the authorities here will continue to do all in their power to ensure that "this country remains a clean and safe jurisdiction in which to live, work and do business".
Several other Caribbean countries, including the Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda, have publicly disagreed with the 2016 report by the US State Department.