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St. Kitts-Nevis government rejects ‘erroneous, offensive’ US narcotics control report

St. Kitts-Nevis government rejects ‘erroneous, offensive’ US narcotics control report

From the press unit in the Office of the Prime Minister

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The government of St. Kitts and Nevis has strongly rejected what it termed as “grossly misleading, erroneous and offensive” statements made about the twin-island federation in the U.S. Department of State’s 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Volume II: Money Laundering (2018 INCSR), which was published in March.

In an official response to the 2018 report, the St. Kitts and Nevis government noted that false claims, particularly relating to banking and money laundering, are void of any substantive evidence, and reiterated that the government “continues to operate in a transparent manner and has in all its interactions with the United States department cooperated in providing all relevant information.”

Among the misleading claims made in the 2018 INCSR is that of anonymous accounts, unusually strong bank secrecy laws and overall lack of transparency of beneficial ownership of legal entities in the federation, says the government.

In response, the government pointed to Section 69 of the Financial Services Implementation of Industry Standards Regulations 2011 (FSIISR), which prohibits anonymously operated accounts and requires regulated businesses to conduct due diligence, as well as record their findings in writing and keep such findings available.

“Additionally, the federation’s Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, 2011, its Anti-Terrorism (Prevention of Terrorist Financing) Regulations, 2011 and its FSIISR with appending Guidance Notes require all regulated entities, including international banks, to carry out careful and comprehensive customer due diligence,” the statement continued.

The Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC), which is responsible for the monitoring of the sole international bank for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) purposes, has conducted comprehensive on-site examinations to ensure compliance with the AML/CFT legislation, the Nevis International Banking Ordinance, Nevis International Banking Regulations, FATF Recommendations and the Basel Core Principles.

The government statement notes that St. Kitts and Nevis has a robust regulatory framework for AML/CFT, including a strong focus on customer due diligence.

It added “the FSRC – the ultimate regulatory body for financial services and AML/CFT for St. Kitts and Nevis – adopted a Risk-Based Supervision (RBS) Framework in May 2015. The IMF, through the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC), was instrumental in providing the necessary training and expertise to develop the RBS Framework. Furthermore, subject to Section 40 of the FSRC Act and Section 4(3) of the FSIISR, the FSRC undertakes enforcement actions in St. Kitts and Nevis. Statistics showing the number of on-site examinations/inspections conducted and enforcement actions undertaken by the FSRC’s St. Kitts and Nevis branches are publicly available online in the December editions of the respective monthly newsletters.”

The official statement said that it is also disingenuous to imply that there has been “growth in the offshore banking sector” in St. Kitts and Nevis, adding that “since the passage of the international banking legislation in Nevis in 1996, only one international bank has ever been granted a licence to conduct international banking business from or within Nevis. Said licence was granted in 1998 to a wholly owned subsidiary of a domestic bank, which was duly licensed by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. There are no offshore banks on the island of St. Kitts.”

The government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to work assiduously to demonstrate that it is “committed to abiding by the same exacting standards that the United States of America and its other longstanding allies adhere to, as responsible members of the international community.”

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