COCI calls for Urgent Action by Parliament and Caretaker Government on Anti-Money Laundering Legislation and Terrorism Financing Regulations

The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce Board is requesting urgent action by the House of Parliament and the Caretaker Government with respect to pending Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Legislation and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) Regulations which are currently pending handling in Parliament.

The board in an urgent meeting on Sunday crafted a letter to the President of Parliament Hon. William Marlin with respect to the aforementioned.

In August the Chamber of Commerce & Industry met with the Minister of Justice regarding the draft AML and CFT legislation.  On two separate occasions, the Chamber was invited to the House of Parliament to give its opinion with respect to the draft legislation especially the areas that are related to COCI, however, both meetings were cancelled.

“Discussions and law amendments date back to 2014. Five years later, it’s 11 minutes before midnight and our time is just about up.  The CFATF will be meeting in November, a little over 30-days from now and the legislation needs to be finalized and submitted for scrutiny and evaluation by the CFATF.

“The COCI Boards have received numerous messages of concern from the business community who are dependent on the financial integrity of the country’s financial system that allows economic activity to be conducted on a daily basis on-island, regionally and internationally.

“We are extremely concerned for the economic wellbeing of the national economy and strongly appeal to the Executive and Legislative branches of Government to adapt the law as soon as possible to ensure that the consequences of non-compliance do not happen,” President Benjamin Ortega said on Sunday on behalf of the Sint Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry Board.

The Chamber has already taken the necessary steps to implement part of the AML/CFT laws that have been passed.

The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), an organization of states and territories of the Caribbean Basin which have agreed to implement common counter-measures against money laundering and terrorism financing, has established a deadline for Sint Maarten to present copies of legislation and measures taken to combat money laundering and counter terrorism financing which would be scrutinized by the CFATF.

Sint Maarten has already received an extension and has to submit the aforementioned for scrutiny before November 2019 where a task force would look at the technical compliance and effectiveness of the country’s legislative framework in countering terrorist financing and preventing money laundering.