GSD hits back at Govt in row over UK ‘high risk’ listing
There was a fresh salvo from the GSD on Tuesday in the row over the UK’s decision to list Gibraltar as a ‘high risk’ jurisdiction after the global money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force, added the Rock to its grey list earlier this year.
The Gibraltar Government has repeatedly insisted that the UK decision was an automatic legislative move echoing any change in the FATF list, adding the GSD should have known this was the case.
But the GSD insists the Financial Services Minister Albert Isola had suggested during the budget debate that such a step was not inevitable, adding the UK was being “extremely supportive” as Gibraltar worked to address the sole two shortfalls highlighted by the FATF.
The different takes have led to a festering row and a string of acrimonious exchanges.
On Monday, the GSD had accused the Government of “arrogance” in its responses, drawing a rebuke from No.6 Convent Place which accused the opposition party of “a staggering lack of knowledge” about a long-established UK practice.
Mr Isola said GSD MP Damon Bossino, who has led on the party’s response to this issue, had “dug himself into a hole” and was making “silly suggestions”.
On Tuesday, the GSD again countered the government position, which it insisted was “inconsistent” with earlier statements to Parliament.
The party accused Mr Isola of “resorting to public school boy name-calling” to “cover his own tracks”.
“It should seem that Mr Isola has no answer to the fact that, firstly, he deliberately represented to Parliament, the financial services industry and to the wider public that being FATF grey-listed did not mean that Gibraltar would be subjected to enhanced due diligence and, secondly, in the same breath that the UK were being extremely supportive,” the GSD said in a statement.
“It was a clear implication that the industry could hope for better than being inevitably put on the high-risk list.”
“Given that since 1 January 2021 the UK has run its own stand-alone list the electorate would understandably take that ministerial statement at face value.”
“However, if he knew it was inevitable then surely he should have said so and not implied the opposite.”
“Or, is it that he did not know at the time and it is his very own lack of homework, which he is now trying to cover up?”
“The charge therefore that the Minister for Financial Services dismally failed to pre-warn the financial services sector of the, and as he now for the first time puts it, apparently inevitable inclusion into the UK list of high-risk third countries, remains unanswered.”
“The fact that the Government continually fails to address that point clearly proves that it is he and not the Opposition who did not do his homework.”
Mr Bossino added: “He talks of holes and digging when he either did not know of the existence the hole Gibraltar would find itself in or he tried to cover it up and ignore it.”
“He needs to focus more on prizing us out of the hole and less on trading insults.”