by Linda Straker
- Boatswain believes small economies are not victims of nor contribute to terrorist financing
- Not amending legislation can result in blacklisting of countries
- Against background of internal weakness, Grenada’s parliament had to approve Bill
Anthony Boatswain, who is a backbencher parliamentarian, is concerned that Grenada and other small developing economies have no choice but to approve financial legislation that is solely aimed at satisfying the desires of developed nations under the disguised of anti-money laundering and terrorism.
“In my opinion, this speaks to indecent haste on the part of small developing economies to response and satisfy their desires of the more developed countries,” Boatswain, told the Parliament while contributing to the Mutual Exchange of Information on Taxation Matters (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
In June 2021, preliminary findings from the Mutual Evaluation Assessment by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), show Grenada progressing very well in terms of effectiveness and technical compliance with anti-money laundering practices.
However, Finance Minister Gregory Bowen who is also Leader of Government Business in the House, told a special sitting of the House on Friday, 13 May 2022 that the report shows “we were stronger on external matters, in other words, if we try or anyone tries money laundering from abroad to bring in the money or to export it or use abroad, we’re very good but internally there are some weaknesses.” It was therefore against this background that Grenada’s parliament had to approve the Bill.
But Boatswain who is a former Finance Minister said, “When we speak of peer review, I will like to know who were the composition of this peer review and what influence the small vulnerable economies have in this composition and if they are members at all of that peer group who are doing the review to satisfied their main requirements which are not ours.”
Boatswain is of the opinion that small economies are not the victims of terrorist financing, nor do they contribute to that in any way. “But, we have to stand the consequences of not responding immediately. What are we asking in return for the additional cost that the banking system has to endure,” he said, expressing his annoyance with the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce.
He said that the demand to continuously amend financial legislation is just a path that developed nations like the EU, UK, and the USA will use to impede the development of smaller nations. “It will not end here, we have seen the disappears of offshore banking, they are coming next for CBI…it will come back and this house will have to deliberate because they will destroy that CBI programme,” he said.
CBI is the Citizenship by Investment programme where non-nationals can purchase citizenship by investing in a real estate business or paying a special amount to the treasury. Grenada has raised millions of dollars through that programme since it was launched in 2013.
“And I am sending out a warning, countries that rely heavily on CBI funding for their development programmes in the future, they will have to think fast, they will have to think again …they will go after it and make sure they put an end to that programme. We have to become more articulate, we have to demand more, we cannot fight them, but we need to have a more active voice,” said Boatswain.
The ramification of not amending the legislation can result in the blacklisting of the countries and other actions that can affect international trade. “We know about corresponding banking, all of this could shut the country down, nobody wants their name on the list because of the terrible consequences to the country and to the economy if we let that happen,” Bowen explained.
Members, by the end of the debate, supported the legislation.