Siba to announce action following Al Jazeera report


The Minister for Finance, Trade and Investment Pierre Laporte made the announcement in the National Assembly on Tuesday morning in answer to an urgent question by elected member for Baie Lazare Wilby Lucas.

Mr Lucas had sought details on the mechanisms Siba has in place to supervise the transactions of off-shore companies.

Mr Lucas also wanted to know if the authority has in the past sanctioned any company which had not conformed with regulations and the impact such a televised programme report will have on the Seychelles offshore industry.
Minister Laporte said the government has commissioned a detailed investigation into the incident and if it is established that a company or individual has breached the law, they will be sanctioned.
He did not give any other details at this stage but said a statement will be issued soon.

“If we want to protect and preserve the credibility of Siba and our country, action has to be taken against anybody responsible for any wrongdoing,” said Minister Laporte.

Elected member for Cascade Charles de Commarmond wanted to know why Siba and the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Investment did not suspend the licence of the company and individual seen in the report to be involved in the money laundering allegations pending investigations.

Minister Laporte noted that while the general feeling is that they are guilty of wrong-doing as clearly shown in the report, until the investigation proves it the mentioned authorities are in no position to take any action.

He pointed out that since 2007, Siba has revoked the licence of five companies, suspended the licence of several International Corporate Service Providers (ICSP) and in other instances it has issued specific guidelines to ICSPs in cases where compliance inspections have identified weaknesses in the Corporate Service Providers’ (CSP) operations.
With regard to the effects of such a report on the offshore sector, Minister Laporte said all the gains accumulated through hard work over the previous years could easily be wiped out by allegations like we have recently witnessed as they could rapidly tarnish the sector’s reputation.
Minister Laporte pointed out that the actions exposed in the Al Jazeera report which has the potential to tarnish Seychelles’ reputation as an offshore jurisdiction, coupled with the present economic uncertainty, are cause for concern.

He noted it is for the time being too early for the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Investment and Siba to assess the impact on the offshore sector, but stressed that it is easy for the country’s reputation to be tarnished and destroyed through the smallest dishonest action if the authorities are not alert and actors working in the sector are not taking their responsibility to protect the country’s good name.

Minister Laporte said Siba has been continuously reinforcing the laws and regulations to ensure that Seychelles’ reputation as an offshore jurisdiction remains intact.

He noted the recent debate by the National Assembly on and subsequent approval of amendments to the International Corporate Service Providers Act which governs the operations of companies.

Along with that there were new provisions to allow Siba to revoke the licence of a company, he noted.

Siba also carries out regular compliance inspection to ICSPs during which it ensures that all procedures being adopted by all ICSPs are in line with the different laws and regulations in place. These inspections help Siba to closely monitor the operations and actions of these companies.

Minister Laporte noted that Siba’s effort has been recognised and commended by different international organisations, namely the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

At the same time, Siba has to ensure Seychelles follows standards set by international organisations.
Minister Laporte pointed out that outside Siba other initiatives are being taken and these include the     Financial Intelligent Unit (FIU) which is in the process of joining the Egmond Group – an informal international gathering of financial intelligence units.

It is important to note that incidents similar to the money laundering allegations report implicating Seychelles do not necessarily happen because of a lack of appropriate laws and regulations, but, unfortunately, because of some individuals’ deceitful behaviour which the law unfortunately cannot always prevent.

He said it is unfortunate that in spite of all the regulations in place there will always be some individuals who for personal reasons put their self interests and gains before that of their country.

Minister Laporte added that Siba has always adopted a firm approach in instances where laws and regulations are not respected.

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