Govt decries one-sided Al Jazeera report on money laundering


10-November-2012

Finance, Trade and Investment Minister Pierre Laporte said this in an interview yesterday evening after the station showed two young men saying they are undercover journalists from Zimbabwe and Ghana commissioned to do a feature about “the US $148 billion that is illegally siphoned out of the African continent”.

The programme – which has also been posted on the internet – does not feature 10 companies the two talked to and covers only two which appear to be purporting to be able to cover the identity of the owners of a large sum of money they claimed came from corrupt practices in an African nation.

However Mr Laporte said the country’s laws require any company’s shareholders to be declared even if they are not made public, so what the “journalists” were trying to do is not possible. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Seychelles International Business Authority (Siba) said when there is an investigation, the courts of law should have access to the identities of the real owners of the company.

“In any case nobody would want to trust his millions to a third party,” Siba’s chief executive Wendy Pierre told Nation.
In response to the documentary – entitled People & Power: How to rob Africa – published and aired on Thursday, Siba said it condemns any act or attempt of money laundering, of corruption in any form or other criminal activity as recently exposed in a documentary aired by Al Jazeera “where two Seychelles-based corporate service providers were shown to be prepared to engage in illegal practices”.

“The Seychelles Government, through Siba and the FIU, will be investigating the two companies and take appropriate action,” the authority said in a press release.

“The two CPS have damaged the reputation of Seychelles and its financial services industry by such activity, in a time when Seychelles has been strengthening its legal, regulatory and supervisory framework in order to ensure compliance to international standards.

“Siba will take action when the FIU has completed its investigation. We have a robust system for reviewing service providers and action is always taken when irregularities are found.”

The authority said it has in the past revoked licenses of service providers when sufficient ground was found for illegal activity.

“Furthermore the FIU has been investigating 47 cases of irregularities by CPS in 2012, and will together with Siba be undertaking a thorough investigation in these two cases.

“Recently, as part of its continuous effort to keep abreast of international norms and best practices, Seychelles has amended a number of its legislation, specifically, the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AML Act) & International Corporate Service Providers Act (ICSP) was improved with regards to customer due diligence, record keeping and reporting obligations.”

“All international financial service jurisdictions are facing the same challenges today, and no jurisdiction is immune from rogue operators. It is important that when cases of wrongdoing are identified, Siba acts swiftly and prevent such activities from continuing. Siba is confident that the majority of service providers in Seychelles adhere to the high standards which have maintained the Seychelles’ reputation as a well regulated jurisdiction.

“It is worth noting that the matters raised in the documentary are not endemic to a particular jurisdiction, but rather a plight that is global. This was further highlighted by the FIU in the documentary. It is unfortunate that Al Jazeera did not air the interview of Siba chairman Steve Fanny, who they had spoken to in Seychelles, which put the concerns in the context of contemporary practices within the international financial services.

“When the Al Jazeera journalists met with Mr Fanny they had explained that they had met ‘undercover’ with 12 CPS in Seychelles, and out of that group, they said that two were willing to working in a corrupted and illegal way. The journalists were asked to provide evidence of illegal activity, and they refused to do so, and left the country before such material was obtained.”

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