US slams St Kitts-Nevis in money laundering and financial crimes report
By LK Hewlett
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) — A US State Department report claims that St Kitts and Nevis “remains susceptible to corruption and money laundering and its deficient vetting of citizenship by investment candidates is also problematic”.
The scathing report, released in March, attributes the country’s susceptibility to corruption and money laundering to “the high volume of narcotics trafficking around the islands”.
On the matter of alleged weaknesses with the St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment (CBI) program, the State Department said, “St Kitts and Nevis derives a significant portion of its revenue from its program offering citizenship through investment; however, this program’s prior lax vetting created anti money laundering and security vulnerabilities domestically and internationally. Despite recent efforts to improve the application process and vetting procedures, the CIP continues to be afflicted by significant deficiencies in vetting candidates and conducting due diligence on passport and citizenship recipients after they receive citizenship.”
The report went on to charge that St Kitts and Nevis did not report passage of new enforcement legislation or prosecutions in 2016, and there have been no money laundering prosecutions or convictions since 2013.
The US government did acknowledge the fact that its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is engaging St Kitts and Nevis to evaluate if recent CBI improvements sustainably address US anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism concerns.
The report was also critical of the offshore sector in Nevis, saying financial oversight in Nevis remains problematic due to the federation allowing the creation of anonymous accounts, strong bank secrecy laws, and overall lack of transparency of beneficial ownership of legal entities.
It read, “The ambiguous regulatory framework regarding customer due diligence makes Nevis a desirable location for criminals to conceal proceeds.”
The US government advised that the government of St Kitts and Nevis should work toward transparency and accountability in financial regulation; and promote close supervision of the CBI program and be transparent in reporting monitoring results.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network