Wednesday 11th April, 2018 –The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has challenged the findings of the United States 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) which has labelled all member-states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as “major money laundering jurisdictions”.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador in Washington, Sir Ronald Sanders, today dispatched a diplomatic note to the US State Department pointing out that “inaccurate, misleading and wrong information in the INCSR has harmed and continues to harm Antigua and Barbuda, particularly in the financial services sector, including the area of correspondent banking relations”.
“In these circumstances,” Ambassador Sanders said, “the Government of Antigua and Barbuda is forced to defend Antigua and Barbuda publicly from the harmful effects of the inaccuracies and misinformation in the INCSR 2018 by releasing its detailed response”.
In its Overview, the INCSR 2018 states that “Antigua and Barbuda has a very small free trade zone and an offshore financial center”. Yet, having admitted that the jurisdiction has a very small free trade zone and offshore financial centre, the Introduction to the entire report identifies Antigua and Barbuda (and all other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries) as a “major money laundering jurisdiction”.
The facts of the matter according to the Antiguan diplomat are that the assets under management in Antigua and Barbuda’s entire financial sector, offshore and onshore is less than US$5 billion of which the offshore sector is less than US$2.5 billion. In comparison with other jurisdictions, the financial sector is miniscule, and it is an over exaggeration, bordering on malice, to describe it as “a major money laundering jurisdiction”.
The INCSR also says: “Antigua and Barbuda… operates a Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) that makes it susceptible to money laundering and other financial crimes”.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda says it wants the Department of State and the Government of the United States to provide the evidence substantiating its statement and undertakes to act on the evidence forthwith. In the absence of such evidence, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda is constrained to assume that the statement in INCSR 2018 is based on gossip and not worthy of further action.