Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson-Smith, says the country has strengthened its financial oversight and regulatory frameworks to remain in compliance with international banking standards.
“Given the severity of the challenge of de-risking by international banks, the Government has accorded the highest priority to this matter,” the Minister emphasised.
She was addressing a panel discussion on de-risking and correspondent banking at the Caribbean Black Caucus Legislative Forum Conference, on Friday, September 16, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre.
“Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, considers this issue to be a clear and present danger to the growth and development prospect of Jamaica,” the Minister said.
De-risking refers to financial institutions exiting relationships with, and closing the accounts of clients considered “high risk.”
Senator Johnson-Smith told the large audience that Jamaica has sought to use its envoys at its Diplomatic Missions to raise the matter in these and other fora.
She said the country would continue to do so until a solution is found to address the legitimate concerns of international banks, while maintaining correspondent banking relationships with institutions and jurisdictions that comply with global best practices in the provision of financial services.
“Jamaica has raised the issue in a number of international forums and will continue to let its voice be heard on this important subject. We are also exploring the feasibility of strengthening our anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF), due diligence and monitoring infrastructure,” the Minister added.
Senator Johnson-Smith said Jamaica is emphasising compliance and hope that international banks will acknowledge the efforts being made, as compliance is costly and a long-term process.
“The challenge before us is significant, but 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 correspondent banking relationships can have on small, vulnerable, developing economies of the Caribbean,” she said.
The Minister noted that 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 the issue.
The conference was spearheaded by Congresswoman, Yvette Clarke.