De-Risking By International Banks A Top Priority For Jamaica

By: Derrick Scott

Washington, DC –  “Given the severity of the challenge of de-risking by international banks, the Jamaican Government has accorded the highest priority to this matter”, said Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith.

Addressing a panel discussion on de-risking and correspondence banking at the Caribbean Black Caucus Legislative Forum Conference spearheaded by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke on Friday, September 16, at the Walter E Washington Convention Center, Senator Johnson-Smith said “Prime Minister Andrew Holness considers this issue to be a clear and present danger to the growth and development prospect of Jamaica”.

In this regard the government has sought to advocate alongside and on behalf of our regional counterparts, to ensure that the attention of the international community is drawn to this devastating thought united negative consequences of de-risking.

Senator Johnson -Smith told the large audience that Jamaica has sought to use its Envoy’s at its diplomatic mission to raise the matter in these and other contexts.

The Senator pointed out that Jamaica will continue to do so until a solution is found that allows international banks to address their legitimate concerns, while maintaining corresponding banking relationships with institutions and jurisdictions that comply with global best practices in the provision of financial services.

Jamaica, she said, has raised the issue in a number of international forums and will continue to let its voice be heard on this important subject.

She pointed out that Jamaica has strengthened its financial oversight and regulatory frameworks and will continue to take steps to remain in compliance with international standards.

According to Senator Johnson-Smith, “We are also exploring the feasibility of strengthening our anti-money laundering counter-terrorist finances (AML/CTF), due diligence and monitoring infrastructure”.

The Foreign Trade minister pointed out that Jamaica is emphasizing compliance and hope that corresponding banks will acknowledge the efforts being made as compliance is costly and a long-term process.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith addresses members of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Forum on de-risking and correspondence banking at the Walter E Washington convention center in Washington DC on Friday, September 16, 2016. Seated at right is moderator Ms. Teri Coaxum. <br/: Photo by Derrick Scott

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith addresses members of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Forum on de-risking and correspondence banking at the Walter E Washington convention center in Washington DC on Friday, September 16, 2016. Seated at right is moderator Ms. Teri Coaxum.
Photo by Derrick Scott

“The challenge before us is significant even though not insurmountable.  It’s groups like the congressional black caucus that should join forces to support our efforts to raise awareness of the negative effects that de-risking and the termination of correspondence banking relationships are having on small, vulnerable, developing economies of the Caribbean” says Johnson-Smith.

She added, “the country’s projection for sustained economic growth and development will be severely constrained if swift and balanced measures are not taken to address the myriad concerns associated with this issue”.

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