Friday, September 9, 2016
RAISE COUNTRY RISK FOR ANTIGUA & BARBUDA DUE TO CONTINUING CORRUPTION
Corruption in government continues to be a major problem in Antigua. The government and the judiciary have intentionally delayed the extradition of its former banking regulator, Leroy King, since 2009. King, who was the last participant in Stanford's massive Ponzi scheme, Stanford International Bank, is wanted in the US, but Antigua, which fears that all its senior leadership from that period will be named, as recipients of dirty money, including the man at the top, refuses to obey the rule of law. Unless the US ultimately receives Mr. King, relations between it and Antigua will be permanently damaged.
The Citizenship through Investment Program, which is the sale of passports to wealthy investors, notwithstanding their unsuitability, is a national scandal, and many government officials are now said to have repeatedly taken bribes and kickbacks in that program. Compliance officers, and immigration officials, in North America and the EU, now look carefully at all Antiguan passports.
In New York, the Federal indictment of an Antiguan ex-diplomat at the United Nations, with ties, again, to senior government officials, and allegations of bribery, meaning reputed payments to the then-Prime Minister, are ignored, and does not result in any action in Antigua.
The vulnerability to money laundering, and other financial crimes, at local financial institutions and money service businesses, reportedly remains high, according to the latest US State Department INCSR report (2016).
The alleged sale, or barter, by government, of National Honors, including Knighthoods, and their subsequent improper use in the United Kingdom, by the recipients, is yet one more national scandal that confirms anything is for sale in Antigua, even royal titles.
Systemic corruption, and deliberate avoidance of the rule of law in the court system, all add up to major exposure, for foreign investors, and even international banks, that decide to do business with, or in, Antigua. Under the circumstances, Country Risk should now be raised to a very high level for Antigua, for the net assessment of the risks involved in the investment of capital, and even conducting routine banking business, are uncomfortably high. Review the facts, and make your own independent determination, but consider carefully the issues shown above, before revising your own calculation of Country Risk.
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock
Chronicles of Monte Friesner