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Caribbean must speak with one voice on financial terrorism, says T&T attorney general

Published:Friday | June 10, 2016 | 6:00 AMMark Titus

Western Bureau:

Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General Faris Al-Rawl says all 27 states of the Caribbean Basin must speak with one voice against the threat of financial terrorism in the region or face the consequences of being monitored by international agencies.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, following the opening ceremony for the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Plenary and Working Group Meeting at Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St James, Al-Rawl said a resounding yes when asked if financial terrorism was a threat to the Caribbean.

PANAMA PAPERS

"If you look southward to Trinidad and Tobago, the conversation is very different ... the flow of money is very noticeable, and one would reflect upon the Panama Papers issue," Al-Rawl said.

"Panama is not too far away from us," continued Al-Rawl.

"How we facilitate offshore banking in the region, how we facilitate beneficial ownership, that is, accounts where you have a certain amount of secrecy or nondisclosure, those are phenomena that exist in the Caribbean itself.

"If you look to The Bahamas, Bermuda, any of the international financial centres that are strong revenue earners for our respective countries, there is the very real risk of terrorist financing, and it is certainly one which we will have to pay attention to because if we do not, the 27 of us, international agencies will do it for us, and then we will feel the effect of it," continued Al-Rawl.

According to the Trinidad and Tobago attorney general, taking a united position and speaking with one voice as a region is in the Caribbean's best interest as it will show there is a mutual position through which the issue is being dealt with.

"Such advocacy as a group is in all the countries' mutual interest because we stand together and tell our international observers, those that offer guidance to us from a financial environment in particular, that we have to be taken into regard as a whole," stated Al-Rawl.

"It is very important, therefore, that there is a mutual commitment from all countries to deal with these issues lest we find ourselves in the position where someone else deals with it for us."

The high-level plenary meeting, which has more than 10 attorneys general and ministers of government from across the region in attendance, is taking place to deal with several issues, including measures to battle money laundering, terrorism financing, corruption, and other financial crimes across the Caribbean Basin.

mark.titus@gleanerjm.com