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Howai: No grounds to put T&T on any blacklist

larry howai

There are no grounds for Trinidad and Tobago to be on a blacklist of countries that do not help investigate foreign aid fraud, Finance Minister Larry Howai has said.

“It has come to my attention through reports in the media that France has drawn up a blacklist of 17 countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, Switzerland and the UAE, that do not help investigate foreign aid fraud, and as a consequence will ban French banks from distributing development funds in those jurisdictions identified in the list,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

“I am advised that French officials may have tried to justify the move by saying there was a lack of transparency in the nations on the list and that poor and developing countries were often the main victims of fraud. 

“I question the legitimacy of this categorisation of Trinidad and Tobago and I consider that there are no grounds for including Trinidad and Tobago on such a list,” Howai said.

He said he was confident controls in the local banking and regulatory systems compared favourably with those in any other jurisdiction. 

“I attach the highest priority to getting the fullest understanding of the circumstances behind these reported remarks by the Minister for Aid for Development and by extension the government of France, particularly in light of the fact that the government of France seems to have taken this action on a purely discretionary basis without reference to us. 

“In this regard, I am advised that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is seeking clarification from the French Embassy regarding the basis for the statement.”