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Fri 17th Nov 2017

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Money Laundering in St. Vincent and the Grenadines?

It was recently reported by abc news in the USA, that the three countries named in the indictment of former Donald Trump Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, are island nations with a legacy of relatively lax oversight of offshore entities and a known history of being a conduit for suspicious money.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has accused Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates of using shell corporations located in the three countries — Cyprus, the Seychelles and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines — as a way to hide assets and avoid paying taxes.

Apparently these countries, "They don't ask questions about what their banks know about their customers, which is a basic requirement to stop money laundering," said Ted Truman, a fellow at the Peterson Institution for International Economics and an expert on money laundering.

It is a shame our country has been linked with money laundering again, but on inspection of the Mustique Act No. 48 of 2002, one can see why suspicions have arisen. Parts of the Mustique Act No. 48 of 2002 are:

Section 18 (D) Exchange control shall not apply to any monies remitted by the Company, its Subsidiaries or its Licensees to or from any place outside Saint Vincent.

Section 20 (A) Foreign currency accounts may be held in Saint Vincent by the Company, non-national companies and non-national Licensees in respect of-
(i) Foreign currency deposit from outside of Saint Vincent; and
(ii) Transactions from outside of Saint Vincent and member territories of the East Caribbean Central Bank.

Section 20 (B) Notwithstanding any exchange control regulation in force from time to time in Saint Vincent foreign currency accounts referred to in the above clause (A) will be fully transferable without the payment of any taxes and any transaction by the Company or a Licensee concerning real estate situated in Mustique or shares of the legal entity owning such real estate may be transacted in any country and/or currency chosen by the Company or Licensee as the case may be, provided that the Company acts as principal or agent for the said transaction. In such case the Company will notify the Government of each transaction.

SVG Green Party Leader Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons) MSc, MBA, who has an MSc in Macro-Economic Policy and Planning in Developing Countries from the University of Bradford, England, believes that the Mustique Act No 48 of 2002 makes it easy for people to move very large sums of money in and out of SVG cheaply and with minimal tax and other financial penalties.

According to the International Compliance Association ‘Tax evasion and other fiscal offences are treated as predicate money laundering crimes in most of the world’s most effectively regulated jurisdictions’.

For the benefit of sustainable development in our country, the Mustique Act No 48 of 2002 must be abolished.

Our country must give high priority to sustainable development and job creation. Money laundering should not be a mode for sustainable development SVG. White Migrants must pay tax or pack their bags and go back to where they come from.

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