OACPS condemns new EU black list

OACPS Secretary-General, Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti

(BRUSSELS, May 7, CMC) -The Secretary-General of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, Thursday condemned the decision by the European Commission to include several African and Caribbean countries on a new list of high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies in their regime regarding anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing.

“The OACPS regrets the unilateral publication of this list, without any appropriate prior consultation with the ACP countries therein mentioned. To this day, neither the Secretariat of the OACPS nor the concerned Member States have been notified of this list, produced by the European Commission (EC),” Chikoti said in a strongly worded letter addressed to Gordan Grlic Radman, the Co-President of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers.

The Secretary General reiterated the commitment of the OACPS member states to the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, telling Radman, who is also the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia that he was also questioning the timing of the EU’s action.

Chikoti pointed out that the inclusion of the OACPS member countries on the list was not in keeping with the spirit of partnership which exists between the two institutions and further requested the postponement of the adoption of the report while calling for “consultations at the earliest possible opportunity in keeping with articles 8 and 12 of the Cotonou Agreement in order to find a solution”.

The EU said under the Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD), it has revised its list, taking into account developments at international level since 2018 and that the “new list is now better aligned with the lists published by the FATF (Financial Action Task Force).

It said countries which have been listed are The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, along with Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana,  Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama and Zimbabwe.

But Guyana is among six other third world countries that have been delisted.

In his letter, the OACPS Secretary General said that “at the moment where the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the economies of these states and that while both member states of the EC and the OACPS are trying to find solutions to the crisis, the publication and the adoption of such a list would aggravate the health and economic crises which are already affecting the concerned countries”.

The Commission said that the new list will now be submitted to the European Parliament and Council for approval within one month, adding “given the coronavirus crisis, the date of application of today’s Regulation listing third countries – and therefore applying new protective measures – only applies as of 1 October 2020.

“This is to ensure that all stakeholders have time to prepare appropriately. The delisting of countries, however, is not affected by this and will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal,” it added.

The Commission‘s Executive Vice-President, Valdis Dombrovskis, said “we need to put an end to dirty money infiltrating our financial system. Today we are further bolstering our defences to fight money laundering and terrorist financing, with a comprehensive and far-reaching Action Plan.

“There should be no weak links in our rules and their implementation. We are committed to delivering on all these actions – swiftly and consistently – over the next 12 months. We are also strengthening the EU’s global role in terms of shaping international standards on fighting money laundering and terrorism financing,” he added.

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