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Barbados asks Rep. Waters for help against ‘damaging’ EU money-laundering listing

The Prime Minister of Barbados is asking House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., for backup in its lobbying fight against a new European Union directive listing the Caribbean nation as a “high risk” country.

“Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, my Attorney-General [Dale Marshall] and Professor Avinash Persaud,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley wrote to Waters on May 21, according to a newly disclosed lobbying filing. “You asked us to identify the most critical issues where we need your help. We have identified just two, separate, but related issues. First, the region’s acute vulnerability to COVID-19 while the region is being denied access to concessionary finance, and second, the ‘blacklisting’ of members of the region by the EU at this sensitive and critical moment.”

In the letter to Waters, Mottley warned that the blacklisting, which was announced by the EU in early May, would “cause damage” to the economies of Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and others “at this most critical time.” Its effects, Mottley writes, “would be both unjustified and disproportionate, particularly given these countries history of good faith cooperation with the EU.”

Waters’ committee did not respond to a request for comment about her intentions regarding the request. Waters is a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has had historically close ties to the Caribbean.

Mottley went on to decry what she called a blacklisting process that was “was not established in a transparent process, with clear and concrete benchmarks” and did not respect her country’s “right to be heard or allow it to undergo reforms to avoid being listed.” The letter also sought Waters’ help in pressing the international community to extend the restructuring of debt arrangements with creditors for nations with “acute vulnerabilities” to the coronavirus crisis.

The EU regulation is set to go into effect Oct. 1.

Barbados has come under scrutiny in recent years for its alleged laxity regarding money laundering. In January, a US federal jury found former Minister of Industry Donville Inniss guilty of transferring $36,000 in bribes from Barbados to the US.

The letter to Waters was distributed by lobbying firm theGroup DC on behalf of the Barbados government. Firm founder Arthur Collins, partner Darrel Thompson and partner Sudafi Henry are registered to lobby on the account and are in frequent contact with Waters.