News / July 15, 2021

Fearing the FATF


When our money laundering laws were being drafted, one of the most
craven provisions was to exempt politicians and candidates from
scrutiny thus freeing them to operate as they please.


Some use the term blacklisting. Others were more circumspect and technical. They called it being in the grey list, a more precise description of the challenges faced by our monetary authorities and effectively, each and every citizen where the economy is placed in a watchlist of potential and actual financial violators.


The risk we pose is understandable. We have been self-describing ourselves as a narco-state out of toxic partisan expedience. That nefarious industry is replete not only with criminals in government, but the economics of the illegal drug trade is facilitated by clandestine transactions, cash payments, money laundering and invisible transactions engineered in the dark web.


Another red flag is our hosting of international gambling operations. We were principals in the theft of a foreign nation’s central bank, their stolen funds ending up in a small branch in a quiet residential neighborhood and from there spirited away to the casino system where dirty money is effectively laundered.


Albeit not quite as obvious, a third red flag is the deliberate dereliction of elected officials leading to the effective complicity of our legislature in allowing for financial aberrations to hide beneath the radar. Again, it is understandable.


Note misplaced priorities. Officials, especially those who hide behind our  anachronistic bank secrecy laws do not seem to take economic sanctions seriously. More so now on the eve of an election year. The kennel is busy yelping for doggy biscuits. Even amid the imperatives compelled by an apocalyptic disease on our weak healthcare systems that has the potential to wipe out whole swaths of our population, lawmakers prioritized an anachronistic anti-terrorism bill to augment the Draconian measures government employed on a health issue.


Evoking its veiled threats and calling every critic a communist terrorist, including altruists, charitable donors in a community market, fashion models and entertainment celebrities, conjures the false presence of wide-spread terrorism thus attracting international watchdogs diligently wary of terrorism’s funding flows. Cross border terrorism is one of the main reasons the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was created to combat. Red-tagging universities and religious institutions raises the same imaginary specter.


The irresponsible cavalierly dismiss the threat of the FATF for us to strictly adhere to and even impose additional safeguards to address money- laundering and the financial racketeering that facilitates the transport, transfer and hides the criminal provenance of illegal funds.


This is serious stuff and the FATF should not be taken lightly.


One, the FATF has the power to firmly shut the international remittances spigot through the global banking networks, the flow of which our countrymen are desperately dependent on more so when, due to the gross mismanagement of our COVID 19 response and economic incompetence, the domestic economy provides even less jobs, and the subsistence income needed to survive.


Two, there will be an increase in cash transactions compelled by 2022. We still live in a milieu where votes are bought and sold. Public relations spinmeisters need cash for operators, troll armies and vilification campaigns. When our money laundering laws were being drafted, one of the most craven provisions was to exempt politicians and candidates from scrutiny thus freeing them to operate as they please.


Read more: Corruption and the Bank Secrecy Law