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US official in Seychelles to address money laundering, financial legislation | 09 October 2019

US official in Seychelles to address money laundering, financial legislation

Mr Billingslea is welcomed to State House by President Faure

United States’ department of treasury assistant secretary for terrorist financing, Marshall Billingslea, yesterday called on President Danny Faure at the State House to discuss critical measures towards intensifying cooperation between Seychelles and his country.

The measures include strengthening Seychelles’ efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

Mr Billingslea is the first official from the US treasury department to visit Seychelles and will be engaged in various high-level meetings with the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS), the Ministry of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, the Auditor General and government leaders among others about threats posed by illegal finance.

He noted that the discussion with President Faure was “very good and very positive” as they committed to intensifying cooperation on fighting money laundering, fighting the illegal drug trade as well as other threats to Seychelles.

“We are here and we are helping already but we want to help more. So we are here and the purpose of the visit is to understand where are the areas where help is most urgently needed and I can then work back in Washington, whether it is with the treasury, the department of state and other agencies, who are the right parts of government that can offer help to these islands. We are committed to doing everything we can to help protect the islands and the people of the Seychelles against these kinds of threats,” said Mr Billingslea.

“This is the first time the treasury department has come to the Seychelles at my level, so this is a very important thing for us to be here to work together on improvements to the country’s laws that deal with anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism,” he noted.

Mr Billingslea continued on to state that the Seychelles economy is very strong as indicated by the gross domestic product (GDP) and among the points of discussion with Governor of CBS Caroline Abel will be economic growth, GDP, and the future plans for digital technologies such as mobile-banking.

“We will also address how we get the banking system here fully digitised, a number of global trends that affect us all and other things like virtual currencies and how do we properly regulate virtual currencies. We will talk about the very important issues relating to the financial action task force, ISAMLAG and these complicated global standards for proper regulation of the banking sector,” Mr Billingslea stated.    

In response to whether he will be working with the authorities to improve Seychelles’ reputation as a tax haven, Mr Billingslea noted that the country’s reputation is very important and that he will be working with local authorities to address this.

“If a country becomes widely-believed to be a tax haven, even if that isn’t completely true, it hurts the reputation so protecting the reputation of the Seychelles as a country that is clean from these issues, that is not open for business that’s going to be very important and I think we do have a lot of work to do,” he concluded.

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