Govt questions GSD’s ‘staggering lack of knowledge’ on UK’s grey list action
The Gibraltar Government said the GSD had displayed “a staggering lack of knowledge” about the UK’s “automatic” response to any country’s inclusion on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force, the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog.
The government was reacting after the GSD voiced concern that the UK had amended its money laundering regulations to class Gibraltar as a “high risk” country, a decision it described as “disappointing”.
In an interview on GBC, GSD MP Damon Bossino questioned why the government had not revealed that this would happen when it made a statement in Parliament during the budget speech insisting the UK Treasury remained supportive of Gibraltar and its efforts to remove itself from the list within a year.
But, on Friday, the government expressed surprise at the GSD’s position, which it said reflected a “worrying” lack of understanding of what had transpired.
The government had earlier explained that the legal position in the UK is that any country listed on the FATF’s grey list is automatically placed on the UK’s list of countries with high risk.
As soon as that country is removed from the grey list, it is automatically removed from the UK list also.
The government said Mr Bossino should have known that and avoided making public statements “as wrong and inaccurate” as the ones he made on GBC.
“I find it remarkable that Mr Bossino makes wholly inaccurate and misleading statements on matters as important as the FATF, without a care or concern as to whether they are right or wrong,” said Albert Isola, the Minister for Financial Services.
“We have already explained clearly what the position is in our statement this week; has he not seen it?”
“I have been at pains to explain the support we have received from HM Treasury and continue to have in this matter, and we are most grateful to them for this.”
“To suggest otherwise as Mr Bossino has is wrong, unhelpful and certainly not in Gibraltar’s best interests.”
Gibraltar was placed on the ‘grey list’ of the FATF in June.
The international organisation urged authorities on the Rock to demonstrate they are "actively and successfully" imposing sanctions and seizures following financial investigations.
The decision was a blow for Gibraltar, which had been working intensely over the past few years to tighten measures to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism and ensure compliance with FATF standards.
In announcing the decision, however, the FATF acknowledged Gibraltar’s “high-level political commitment” to strengthen its regime to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.
At the time, the Gibraltar Government said the issues identified by the FATF would be addressed through an action plan that would be completed by May 2023, the shortest possible time for removal from the list.