Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH) has convened a meeting to address deficiencies in the country’s anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.

The high-level meeting was prompted by warnings from Washington that it may restrict money transfers between the US and the Caribbean state.

AML/CFT concerns

Presidents of both Haiti’s houses of parliament, members of the executive, heads of banking institutions, senior police officers and business leaders met to assess the risks to the country’s economy posed by its weak AML/CFT regime.

Most recently, the US said it would take action on all money transfers between the two countries if a set of concrete AML/CFT measures is not in place by November.

Correspondent fears

The threat from Washington follows a June statement by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which highlighted shortcomings in Haiti’s AML/CFT regime.

The statement was based on the findings of a FATF evaluation mission to Haiti, which found the Haitian financial system in a very serious situation, particularly in terms of its ability to sustain relations with US correspondent banks.

Participants at the meeting expressed concerns that weak regulation in the banking sector could lead to financial isolation.

Governor’s warning

According to BRH governor, Jean Baden Dubois, if Haiti does not put in place by November proper arrangements that conform to FATF’s international standards, it could have very serious consequences given Haiti’s dependence on the US banking system.

Dubois, who took up his post in January 2016, reckons that if relations with US banks were stopped, then more than 75 per cent of transfers received from and sent to foreign countries would be affected.

The governor added that other international financial transactions, including letters of credit, guarantees and credit lines would be affected.