“I stand by my statement that the US INCSR
2017 report is replete with inaccuracies and that it repeated a lot of Observer
Media Group propaganda,” so said the Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime
Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, following a Sunday afternoon broadcast on the
Prime Minister explained that the INCSR 2017 Report is utilized extensively by
“international banks for purposes of
determining de-risking.” The Report is also utilized by our peers in reviewing Antigua
and Barbuda’s compliance with international standards, the Prime Minister
explained; it therefore has potential negative implications for our visa-free
relationship with other countries and for the much-needed-CIP revenues.
“To allow these patent inaccuracies to stand
uncontroverted, would have been a form of silent self-¬≠condemnation. The
consequences of silence would be far greater than any strident defense which
the Prime Minister has made,” the Honourable Gaston Browne remarked.
“The inaccuracies were numerous and grossly
exaggerated. For example, the report stated that Antigua and Barbuda’s offshore
sector is ‘tax-free’ when it is not. The INCSR 2017 Report also claimed that
Antigua and Barbuda has a ‘large offshore banking and remote gaming
jurisdiction’. The facts are, Antigua and Barbuda has less than a handful of Internet
gaming operators after the US decimated the industry and put thousands of youth
out of work. We are now down to 11 offshore banks with less than $1.5 Billion
dollars in assets,” the Prime Minister reported.
“The offshore banking sector is by no means
medium-sized, much less large,” the Head of Government remarked. “The authors of the INCSR are clueless about
the small size and small volume of transactions,” the Prime Minister
asserted. Antigua and Barbuda has strengthened its AML/CFT framework and the
country has been found to be compliant by all international standards-setting
passed by the Gaston Browne administration include a new offshore banking act,
FATCA, Common Reporting Standards and numerous amendments to existing AML/CFT and
tax transparency laws to make them fully compliant with international
standards. Antigua and Barbuda has cooperated with various US agencies, including
the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Agency, The US State
Department. Antigua and Barbuda has also cooperated with the Interpol and many
other international agencies.
“The country’s level of cooperation with the
US is deemed to be even better than that of the USVI and many other countries
in the hemisphere,” the Prime Minister revealed.
“We operate the most transparent and
accountable CIP program in the region and one of the best-governed in the world,
with several tiers of due diligence. In the past, under the United Progressive Party
administration, only private due diligence providers were used by the
Citizenship by Investment Unit, and it reported to a Minister and not the
Cabinet. Today, the CIP Unit utilizes private due diligence providers, JRCC,
and regularly seek the assistance of friendly governments— including US
agencies, to assist with our due diligence,” Prime Minister confirmed.
“We publish, twice yearly, all of the CIP
information to include all payments and receipts. We even introduced a list of
restricted countries whose citizens are ineligible for CIP. We are the first
country to introduce three tiers of due diligence, and we have been the
standard-setter for due diligence, transparency and accountability,” Prime
Minister Browne made clear.
Prime Minister asks: “How come, with all
of the safe¬≠guards, transparency and accountability could anyone characterize
our program as the most lax in the world?”
“We reject that characterization by anyone,
no matter how mighty,” the Prime Minister asserted.
“In the human trafficking report, the
Observer Media Group published propaganda that US$500K was stolen from our CIP.
It is an unfounded, fabricated allegation by a known fabricator of alternative
facts. An individual whom the OMG lauded for his mischief and assassination of
people's character, and for denigrating the image of our country. OMG is
routinely propagating opposition propaganda/nastiness that hurts our country's
image. Several of OMG programs are rabid political programs. Accordingly, they
will be treated as rabid political opponents and UPP propagandists. The
unfortunate result is that many of the regional and international reports on
Antigua & Barbuda emanate from the OMG publications; those reports are
repeated by the international community as factual,” the Prime Minister
“Finally, we all have a duty to defend our country
against all unjust attacks. As your Prime Minister, it is a duty that I take exceedingly
seriously. I could not have allowed our country to be unfairly condemned by its
silence on the patently false statements appearing in the INCSR reports. Too
bad that the shortsighted and disgraced, former UPP Ambassador, Isaac Newton,
saw my defense as crass. What was crass was his misconduct, during his short-lived
career as a public servant, in which he was fired by former Prime Minister
Spencer, for certain wrongdoing. I will always stand in defense of my country,
against the aggression of the mighty, even in the face of harm and most vile
characterization. This is an unshakeable commitment to my nation and my dear
I shall die fighting in defense of our nation.
Much love and blessings.”
Hon. Gaston Browne M.P.