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St. Maarten Justice minister: Combatting money laundering national, collective responsibility


PHILIPSBURG–Justice Minister Dennis Richardson wants the country’s image on the combating money laundering and terrorist financing to improve.  A key organisation in this matter is the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which falls under the Ministry of Justice. It is a new entity established on October 10, 2010, also known to many as MOT, which has the mission to detect and deter money laundering and terrorist financing and other underlying crimes, thus contributing to a safe and stable financial economic environment for the country. “We, as a country do not tolerate anybody using us for money laundering,” Richardson said in a press release issued by the Department of Communications DComm on Tuesday.

“We have taken it upon ourselves as a country to have an FIU entity in place to combat such illegal activities that may take place on our territory. We have international obligations and responsibilities and we are complying with them.”

Richardson said he wants to send “a very strong message” to investors that St. Maarten welcomes their investments as long as they are legitimate.  “St. Maarten will always be open to legitimate foreign investment. For those who think they will be able to launder their illicit gains, you are hereby informed that we will not accept nor tolerate this, and you are not welcome here,” Richardson warned.  The Justice Minister said St. Maarten wants to have a strong and dynamic financial sector free from money laundering, terrorist financing and other underlying crimes. The financial sector falls under the supervision of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten.  The Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) fall under the supervision of the FIU.

These businesses and professions have been invited to register with FIU via its Website and include lawyers, notaries, tax advisors, accountants, administration offices, jewellers, car dealerships and real estate agents.  Registration must be completed before September 30. The business sector and professionals in St. Maarten play a vital role in combating money laundering and terrorist financing.  FIU wants to foster a close working relationship with those categories of businesses and professions that have been identified.

Combating money laundering and terrorist financing is seen as a national collective responsibility and, therefore, joint combative measures from government involving the private sector will lead to a successful effort with the end result a better economic environment for all to thrive in connection with the national development of the country, leading to improvement in the quality of life for all, Richardson said in the release.

St. Maarten is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and fully subscribes to the mission of developing and implementing effective anti-money laundering, anti-terrorist financing and counter-terrorist financing systems, and to contribute to the setting of global standards. Richardson also said that the FIU of St. Maarten subscribes to being an efficient and responsive organisation that plays a leading role, within the region and the global community, in the prevention and suppression of money laundering and terrorist financing through the effective implementation of international standards.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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