With all that’s been going on, Friday’s story about a public statement being issued against St. Maarten should not go unnoticed. Justice Minister Egbert Doran reported this while attending plenary meetings of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) in Antigua.
He assured there would be no immediate consequences, as other countries were not advised to take any countermeasures, but the news can hardly be called good. As the recently-sworn-in minister himself stated, things could turn for the worse in May if local legal shortcomings in the global fight against money-laundering and the financing of international terrorism are not addressed (see also letter on opinion pages).
What’s more, the incoming Jacobs Cabinet was tasked by Governor Eugene Holiday to do what is necessary to prevent being blacklisted as non-compliant, which would be the next step. With a newly-elected Parliament to take office on February 10, that’s the real deadline now faced by the interim NA-led “coalition of 10” that had been quite critical of some of the related law changes needed.
This is not something that can be left to the next government, because doing so would be cutting it far too close for comfort. After all, there are serious potential implications not just for an already-stressed commercial banking system due to de-risking policies in the US, but for the tourism economy in general.
One of the still-missing ingredients is approval of a revised Penal Procedure Code, which must be done in conjunction with the other two Dutch Caribbean countries Curaçao and Aruba. This makes it even more important to coordinate and handle this matter with the required sense of urgency.