The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) issued a statement Thursday saying that while it has decided to call for counter measures against Guyana over what it deems to be inadequate progress in the passage of counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering legislation, it recognizes that significant progress has been made by Belize.
The statement notes that CFATF had required Belize to implement outstanding issues within its action plan, such as customer due diligence requirements, the operational independence of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and prohibiting dealings with shell banks.
“Belize has since brought into force significant mechanisms to address its AML/CFT [anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism] deficiencies. Belize and the CFATF should continue to work together to ensure that Belize’s reform process is completed, by addressing its remaining deficiencies and continue implementing its action plan,” the statement said.
It explained that back in November 2011, the CFATF had brought this to the attention of its members in certain jurisdictions, including Belize, which it deemed to have “significant strategic deficiencies” in its regime.
In its May 2013 statement, CFATF called on Belize to enact legislation and issued recommended guidelines for addressing their AML/CFT deficiencies.
In November 2013, CFATF called on members to “consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems” from possible money laundering and terrorist financing emanating from Belize.
“Belize had made efforts to address its deficiencies; however, it had not taken sufficient steps towards improving its AML/CFT compliance regime, by failing to approve and implement required legislative reforms,” the report acknowledged.
Belize’s Parliament has passed a raft of legislation to avert the threatened sanctions. Those bills—which included the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2014; the Domestic Banks and Financial Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2014; the Financial Intelligence Unit (Amendment) Bill, 2014; the Money Laundering and Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Bill, 2014; and the Mutual Legal Assistance and International Co-Operation Bill, 2014—received rare bipartisan support in the National Assembly of Belize.