Trinidad & Tobago removed from grey list by the FATF

As of February 2020, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has removed Trinidad and Tobago from its grey list and concluded that Trinidad and Tobago is no longer subject to active monitoring. FATF is an inter-governmental body which sets standards for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

In January 2015, Trinidad and Tobago was the 1st member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to undergo the FATF 4th Round Mutual Evaluation peer review process under the UNC’s direct supervision, led by the then Attorney General. As a result of outstanding technical deficiencies, the country failed miserably in its assessment of regulatory laws and measures and the then UNC Government took no steps to inform the public of this assessment nor of the dismal effect of failing the FATF process.

By September 7, 2015 the PNM Government led by the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Keith C. Rowley M.P. met this devastating failure handed from the former administration and the results of the 2015 microscopic examination were a fait accompli – the Mutual Evaluation Report, published in June 2016, highlighted the poor state of the country’s AML/CFT unsatisfactory and deficient structure in place during the UNC’s administration. The Report’s findings outlined numerous deficiencies and the results clearly demonstrated that the country had drastically and dramatically failed the evaluation process. As a result of which Trinidad and Tobago was placed on the FATF’s grey list in November 2017 and subject to active monitoring by the FATF.

The PNM Government, led by the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Keith C. Rowley M.P. driven by its Anti-Crime Plan to “take the profit out of crime” and determined to improve TT’s rating on the international front, led by the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, piloted and implemented several measures to ensure transparency in land, cash and business transactions to directly target rampant corruption, fraud and criminality in the country. The Attorney General’s visionary plan to aggressively improve plant and machinery, processes, people and laws relative to the criminal justice system resulted in the Government’s enactment of twenty-three (23) pieces of AML/CFT legislation swiftly followed by their operationalization. Over the past four (4) years, the UNC Opposition did not support and caused unnecessary delays with the progression of these pieces of legislation.

The Attorney General lead the following concrete outcomes:

• Expanded measures for civil forfeiture and confiscation with the introduction of novel legislation to take the profit out of crime by utilising Unexplained Wealth Orders with two Preliminary UWOs in train;

• Established specialist financial prosecutorial and investigative units in the Office of the DPP and the TTPS for early and joint collaboration on financial crimes;

• Increased additional resources to the Compliance division of the FIUTT by 69%;

• Improved the Judicial complement of the Judiciary by 70%;

• Implemented a Beneficial Ownership information register for all companies and non-profit organisations in the Registrar General’s Department and effected a 300% increase in human resources; and

• Implemented on-going monitoring for ensuring compliance on financial sanctions relative to terrorism financing and proliferation financing having achieved 116 Court Orders to date.

Through these reforms and the Attorney General’s mandatory and active participation at three (3) annual FATF Plenary meetings and bi-annual CFATF Plenary meetings, as well as periodic attendance at face to face meetings with the FATF, where the Attorney General delivered outstanding progress reports, including oral submissions, Trinidad and Tobago was able to demonstrate continuous improvement in twenty-two (22) areas of evaluation at each Plenary Meeting. Overall the process was intense and required diligent involvement with rewarding deliverables by the country.

In the end, Trinidad and Tobago under the leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Keith C. Rowley M.P. achieved massive improvements in all key areas covering international cooperation - beneficial ownership information of corporate entities; money laundering prosecutions and convictions, confiscation and forfeiture applications; and on-going terrorism financing investigations and specialised courts with administrative support for financial crime. The process involved four years of intense dialogue and concluded with an intensive 2-day on-site examination in Trinidad and Tobago by the FATF during January 6-7, 2020 with a delegation led by the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs and comprised of representations of key State entities.

In its finale, the Attorney General delivered remarks to the FATF delegates on Trinidad and Tobago’s systematic reform at the FATF Plenary meeting during February 16-21, 2020 in Paris, France. The FATF President, Mr. Xiangmin Liu, China congratulated the Attorney General and noted that Trinidad and Tobago has strengthened the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime. Trinidad and Tobago will remain directly involved in the work of the FATF and CFATF through Ms. Vyana Sharma, Chair, NAMLC and Head, Anti-Terrorism Unit, Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs in its assessment and monitoring of action plans by other countries placed on the grey list in the Caribbean and Latin American region.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is pleased to announce this milestone achievement which means that Trinidad and Tobago was not blacklisted by the FATF and is now in good ratings on the international front. The Government, led by the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Keith C. Rowley M.P. remains committed to delivering to the people of Trinidad and Tobago effective measures for taking the profit out of all criminal activities and stopping the illicit flow of money through criminal enterprises. 

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