Dear Editor,

It was not that long ago that Hurricane Irma ravaged our island. It would be an understatement to say that the then-Marlin government failed to take necessary measures both before and after the storm to mitigate what is now regarded as the greatest disaster to befall our island.

We are now poised to feel the effects of another type of storm, an economic one, set to land in November, if we fail to adopt the FATF regulations. We will then be left trying to work our way out of a deep economic chasm that is completely avoidable. 

If St. Maarten was a member of the G7 we would have had a say in setting up of the rules of International Trade. Sadly, we are not a rule-maker but a rule-taker. It is our choice, however, if we want to be a rule-breaker, Of course, this  is the easiest course, which is do nothing Naturally the NA [National Alliance – Ed.] has taken the lead in this discourse because of their particular forte “paralysis”. But considering that the US dollar forms the backbone of our economy we had best tread carefully. 

It seems to me our discussions in  Parliament should be focussed on “What are the consequences for the island if we adopt the measure versus the consequences if we do not”. It would be useful if we could have this discussion without the  regular and distracting “woe is we” theatrics. Mr. Emmanuel purports to speak for the bankers.  But we got bankers, How about we let them address Parliament and speak for themselves.  

So, when in doubt, check the Internet. I found there is a wealth of information on this topic. I checked YouTube, where I find the graphic representation of data far more  digestible. I learned that the purpose of FATF was to combat money-laundering and  terrorist-financing. (Strangely, no mention was made of the Theo investigation.) Failure to comply would mean our overseas financial transactions would involve extra scrutiny, take longer and incur additional costs. 

Once a country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced due diligence and countermeasures, increasing the cost of doing business with the country and in some cases severing it altogether. As of now (this excerpt was published on YouTube March 26, 2019) there were only two countries in the blacklist – Iran and North Korea – and seven on the grey list, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria and Yemen. 

The MOT laws already prescribe that we provide source of funds for transactions in excess  of $10,000. So why the resistance to additional measures by our local politicians. Exactly who are they trying to protect?

Mr. Emmanuel’s rant was most revealing. The silence from the aisle that should be supporting our Minister of Justice is just as telling, the concern extends to more than extra paperwork on behalf of our banks. Indeed there are many rich and powerful people on our island who have more to fear than the regular hard-working citizen. Mr. De Weever’s proposal should be a no-brainer, but the political twisting seem to be setting us all up to pay the cost. 

 

Name withheld at author’s request.