The Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) has joined in decrying the European Union’s (EU) addition of The Bahamas on its latest blacklist naming countries it finds are deficient in legislation mitigating anti-money laundering / combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).
According to a press statement from The Bahamas’ Brussels embassy, the sentiments were espoused during the first virtual Extraordinary Inter-Sessional Summit of Heads of State and Government of Members of the OACPS, held on Wednesday.
The information, which was provided by Head of Mission to the European Union and Ambassador of The Bahamas to the Kingdom of Belgium Maria O’Brien, explained that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chairperson and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley continued to rail against the placement of The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica and Ghana on the blacklist.
“Noteworthy during the contribution by Prime Minister Mottley was her determined champion of the case of The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Ghana and other nations placed on a list of shame as high-risk third countries on AML/CFT by the European Union, unilateral actions which she unequivocally ejected on behalf of the Caribbean region and further decried as ‘lacking transparent processes with no concrete and clear benchmarks’, which would serve the purpose of ‘further decimating the economies of these countries at a time when the financial and international business sectors as key engines of growth in the Caribbean were the only sectors untouched by COVID-19 until the unfortunate action taken by the publication of the shame list’,” the statement noted.
“The impact of the publication of the proposed list of high-risk third countries on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing by the European Commission was also communicated as ravaging economies and categorized as non-reflective of state principles of good faith and the ongoing commitment to multilateral cooperation. She underscored the increasing difficulty for countries to financially protect their populations against the pandemic due to the listing.”
The statement added that Mottley also stood against the continued used of gross domestic product per capita as a measure of support that should be provided for small island developing states (SIDS), explaining that those countries’ risk factors are disproportionate to developed countries.
“She explained that it was an outdated and ill-suited definition of Caribbean nations’ vulnerability used over the past 30 years, resulting in the denial of opportunities from global strategic and development partners,” the statement pointed out.
“She further stated that the classification of Caribbean islands as middle-income nations does not reflect their highly vulnerable economic security due to small size, economic structure and natural disaster susceptibility. In her closing remarks, she posited that the key development of the mobilization of OACPS within multilateral forums should include a new definition criterion for equitable access.”
According to the statement, OACPS has mobilized more than €200 million from the 11th European Development Fund, financed by the EU, which The Bahamas is eligible to access for the fight against COVID-19.