The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) has given Antigua and Barbuda one of the best reports of regional countries so far in its fourth round evaluations.
The 2018 Mutual Evaluation Report, published by the CFATF, gives an overall positive assessment of the country’s efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Examiners looked at both technical compliance with the FATF 40 recommendations and the effectiveness of the implementation of the AML/CFT system.
The report noted Antigua and Barbuda’s national AML/CFT policy and determined the jurisdiction has a reasonable understanding of the risks posed by money laundering and terrorist financing.
It pointed out that financial sector examiners are well-respected and it acknowledged a high level of understanding of ML/FT risks among the banking sector, though it did say that there is room for improvement in other areas of the financial sector.
Areas for improvement included: identification of vulnerable non-profit organizations; lack of full awareness by lawyers of their AML/CFT obligations; and the need for implementation of the recently enacted requirement for annual reports on beneficial ownership of entities.
The Financial Intelligence Unit was commended for the accessibility of financial intelligence and other information that it analyzed and generated. The CFATF report, while finding that civil forfeiture cases are well investigated with numerous successful forfeiture orders granted by the court, also mentioned that the mechanism for criminal confiscation is not being fully utilized.
The country was described as timely in its mutual legal assistance and extradition to other countries, though greater prioritization was needed.
In the CFATF’s previous assessment of Antigua and Barbuda in 2007, there were over 30 areas identified as having significant weaknesses. These weaknesses have been reduced in the 2018 report to only eight that require significant improvement. The report also states that 32 areas of the AML/CFT infrastructure reached levels of ‘compliant’ or ‘largely compliant’, a significant improvement over the ten areas identified in 2007.
Recommended actions by the CFATF examiners include: creation of a serious offences court; greater effort to increase money laundering prosecutions; stronger risk-based examinations of financial institutions; and measures to assist financial institutions and non-financial businesses and professions to better understand their ML/TF risks.