Saturday 28 March, 2020

AGLA: T&T off FATF grey list

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has removed Trinidad and Tobago from its grey list and concluded that the country is no longer subject to active monitoring.

The Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs (AGLA) issued a media release advising of the development on Friday evening.

FATF is an inter-governmental body which sets standards for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

In January 2015, Trinidad and Tobago was the first member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to undergo the fourth Round Mutual Evaluation peer review process under the then United National Congress Attorney General.

The Government changed following general elections on September 7, 2015 and the Mutual Evaluation Report was published in June 2016. It found that Trinidad’s Anti Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) status was unsatisfactory. As a result, Trinidad and Tobago was placed on the FATF’s grey list in November 2017 and was subjected to active monitoring.

The PNM Government, led by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, piloted and implemented several measures to ensure transparency in land, cash and business transactions, fraud and criminality. The Government ultimately enacted and operationalised 23 pieces of AML/CFT legislation.

 AGLA said, however, that over the past four years, the Opposition caused unnecessary delays with the progression of these pieces of legislation.

The following measures were taken by the Attorney General to ensure compliance:

- Expanded measures for civil forfeiture and confiscation with the introduction of novel legislation to take the profit out of crime by utilising Unexplained Wealth Orders with two Preliminary UWOs in train

- Established specialist financial prosecutorial and investigative units in the Office of the DPP and the TTPS for early and joint collaboration on financial crimes

- Increased additional resources to the Compliance division of the FIUTT by 69%

- Improved the Judicial complement of the Judiciary by 70%

- Implemented a Beneficial Ownership information register for all companies and non-profit organisations in the Registrar General’s Department and effected a 300% increase in human resources and

- Implemented on-going monitoring for ensuring compliance on financial sanctions relative to terrorism financing and proliferation financing having achieved 116 Court Orders to date.

Following this, the Attorney General participated in three mandatory annual FATF Plenary meetings and bi-annual CFATF Plenary meetings as well as periodically attended face to face meetings with the FATF. There, the AG delivered progress reports including oral submissions, Trinidad and Tobago demonstrated continuous improvement in 22 areas covering international cooperation - beneficial ownership information of corporate entities; money laundering prosecutions and convictions, confiscation and forfeiture applications; and on-going terrorist financing investigations and specialised courts with administrative support for financial crime.

The process involved four years of intense dialogue and concluded with an intensive two-day on-site examination in Trinidad and Tobago by the FATF during January 6-7, 2020. In its finale, the AG delivered remarks to the FATF delegates on the country's systematic reform at the FATF Plenary meeting during February 16-21, 2020 in Paris, France.

FATF President Xiangmin Liu congratulated the AG and noted that Trinidad and Tobago has strengthened the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime. 

“The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is pleased to announce this milestone achievement which means that Trinidad and Tobago was not blacklisted by the FATF and is now in good ratings on the international front,” the release ended.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: