Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Gaston Browne is today in Jamaica attending a United States – Caribbean Public Private Dialogue on Correspondent Banking organized by the United States Department of the Treasury and the Bank of Jamaica.
The Finance Minister, accompanied by Financial Secretary Mr. Whitfield Harris outlined that the current banking crisis is a threat to the region whose financial services have been under constant attack, threatening the livelihood of the peoples of the region and government’s efforts to build their economies and create employment for their people.
PM Browne said that the dialogue will specifically allow Caribbean and U.S. authorities and banks to directly discuss how the correspondent banking relationships are managed and what controls and processes the authorities expect banks to implement.
“I intend to forcefully put forward CARICOM’s position on this matter to the U.S. authorities because I believe we are being treated unfairly. We have been labelled as tax havens and accused of lax tax regimes and avenues for money laundering and terrorism financing, yet there is absolutely no evidence to support these allegations as in all instances where banks and financial institutions have to pay penalties on such matters, not one CARICOM nation has ever been involved. This cannot be right – it cannot be just,” PM Browne stated.
He further pointed out that all CARICOM countries have gone beyond the requirements at great financial burden to governments and their people to comply with the Financial Action Task Force and other international financial institutions recommendations; however the financial sector remains under attack.
In February of this year, Prime Minister Browne was chosen by CARICOM heads of government to lead a high level advocacy group on the banking crisis with the aim of representing its interest at all levels, including with the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the United States Congress.