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CARICOM in banking talks with US

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne is leading a Caribbean delegation for discussions with United States authorities on the threat of the withdrawal of correspondent banking services that could destroy the region’s financial sector.

Caribbean countries are facing the loss of access to the international financial markets by mainly the region’s indigenous banks, with several international banks—primarily in the US and Europe—signalling to client banks in the region an unwillingness to continue carrying their business.

Correspondent banks are financial institutions that provide services on behalf of another financial institution. They are used by banks in one country to conduct business in a foreign country.

Browne, as agreed by Caricom heads in February, is leading a high-level advocacy group at the US-Caribbean Public-Private Dialogue on Correspondent Banking in Jamaica.

“I intend to forcefully put forward Caricom’s position on this matter to the US authorities because I believe we are being treated unfairly,” Browne said in a statement about his plans for the meeting in Jamaica.

“We have been labelled as tax havens and accused of lax tax regimes and avenues for money laundering and terrorism financing, yet there is absolutely no evidence to support these allegations…In all instances where banks and financial institutions have to pay penalties on such matters, not one Caricom nation has ever been involved. This cannot be right, it cannot be just.”

The move by global banks threatens to impact several critical services including remittance transfers. International trade, the facilitation of credit card settlements for local clients are among the other effects the region faces.

Courtesy: Trinidad Guardian

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