COCI stance on actions to combat money laundering and terrorism funding

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) is of the opinion that compliance with international standards applicable to Commercial registries, will not solely contribute towards a more secure business environment on St. Maarten, but will also contribute towards the country’s initiatives to combat money laundering and terrorism funding activities.

Compliance with (Financial Action Taskforce on Money laundering) FATF international standards set in February 2012 (Anti Money Laundering/ Combating the financing of Terrorism AML/CFT standards) will be achieved if all within the country implement and execute measures that will aid hereto. Financial institutions, Insurance companies, Notaries and Lawyers have already commenced the implementation and execution of measures under the heading “Know your customer”. Share holder registers and Ultimate Beneficiary Ownership (UBO) records are already being maintained within the entities mentioned afore, yet a proper regulation and central registry hereon has not been provided for.

The Parliament of the European Union in its guideline of May 20, 2015, outlined the objective for its member states to have in place laws and administrative provisions through which the guideline requirements will be in effect by June 27, 2017. The guideline is formulated with due consideration of the FATF recommendations, and seeks to have a more structured and organized approach towards the combatting of money laundering, terrorism funding and organized crimes. The member states have committed themselves to have the appropriate laws and administrative provisions in place. Within the Kingdom, the Netherlands has currently on consultation a law amendment to the Chamber of Commerce Register law (Handelsregisterwet of 2007) and the Civil Code.

COCI Operations having received unanimous support from its Board of Directors has taken the stance that Country St. Maarten, being part of the Kingdom, must do its part. COCI shall have formulated law amendment proposals to be presented to the Government of St. Maarten, later this year for its consideration. COCI shall conduct prior consultations with stakeholders, to ensure input is incorporated in proposals to be presented to Government. COCI is of the opinion that we must be proactive and undertake initiatives that will underscore the country’s intent to be compliant with international standards and demonstrate its commitment to combat crimes that adversely affect the integrity, stability and credibility of the financial sector, and so the country.

COCI advocates that country St. Maarten commits to adopt and have implemented the required supporting laws, to enable a central registry, with proper safeguards, to be maintained on shareholding and ultimate beneficiary ownership by June 2017.  COCI will do its part and trusts that the Government will give due and timely considerations to its proposals, in the interest of St. Maarten.