Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi believes T&T may soon be removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist. In his address at an NEM Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing Terrorism Conference yesterday, Al-Rawi said: “I look forward to coming home from Paris on the 21st, 22nd of February, Carnival Saturday or Sunday, while the jumping up is going on, to ask people hopefully to jump a little higher, because we may have a great tale to tell.”
T&T and 15 other countries were blacklisted by the FATF because it was not compliant with Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) codes.
The AG, accompanied by Wendell Lucas of the Financial Investigations Bureau, Asst DPP Joan Honore-Paul, and Anti-Terrorism Head in the AG’s office Vyana Sharma will go before the FATF in Paris from February 13.
“Put quite simply, we don’t have the luxury of considering our sovereignty as the be-all and end-all,” Al-Rawi said. “We can be entirely sovereign and tell the rest of the world we will do as we wish, but that has a consequence, the consequence is global isolation, and in effect sanction that cripples our economy.”
He said being published on any list is a connotation that will “hit” the country and as a result “we end up with now the well-known concepts of derisking and debunking.”
According to the AG, that is what happens when countries effectively say “that it is too expensive to do business with you.” He said countries shy away from doing business with nation-states that are non-compliant with the international standard because of a lack of structure.
He said T&T’s inability to be prepared to undergo its evaluation five years ago resulted in its lack of success.
“Trinidad and Tobago, in failing its January 2015 assessment, entered into that enterprise entirely unprepared,” he said.
“For some reason, God alone knows why, our government then said to the world, ‘Aye there’s this new thing called a fourth-round assessment, we’ll be the first in the world.’ And we didn’t finish the third round assessment, so forget that, we’ll just jump into the fourth round assessment.”
Subsequently, the country was placed under supervision and published on the list, which is either a grey list or blacklist. He explained that the initial list is “manipulated depending on how countries view you because they take note of it and decide to put in their own sanctions.”
The AG believes that T&T can demonstrate the hard work it has done to be removed from being blacklisted. He encouraged citizens to appreciate, based on fact, the work that has gone into transforming the country’s legislative structure.
He said: “Pretenders at the door selling bad news need to be rejected on the demonstration of facts.”