Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Friday, April 19, 2019

LACK OF FREE PRESS IN THE EAST CARIBBEAN STATES AFFECTS DUE DILIGENCE IN NORTH AMERICA




Compliance officers at financial institutions in Canada and the United States who are conducting due diligence on individuals or companies located in the East Caribbean CBI states, and who routinely access open-source information on the internet, in an effort to check out applicants for new accounts, should be aware that, in essence there is no truly free press in the region, and a large degree of self-censorship exists in local media. This means all news originating from the region must be taken with a large amount of salt.

Many of the East Caribbean states exist under who political scientists call "strongman" rule. the leaders of those countries, though legally elected, remain in power through a combination of bribes, kickbacks, offers of employment, threats, and in some cases, physical violence perpetrated upon their voting population. There are few, if any, democratic checks and balances upon their power, and generally, the members of local parliaments are allied with the leaders, and often receive monetary compensation, of one sort of another, to remain so.

Local media exists under the shadow of these powerful leaders, and most is pro-regime, receiving advertising revenues as an incentive to publish only favorable news and feature stories. The few  media outlets that expose corruption, money laundering, illegal Citizenship by investment or diplomatic passport scandals, often find themselves the target of regime action, including bogus arrests and civil libel or slander actions, or some other form of intimidation. In rare cases, violence against journalists seeking to publish the truth occurs, as we saw in the incident in Malta, where a crusading journalist was murdered by a car bomb.

The influence of powerful and wealthy CBI consultancies, who have a vested financial interest in suppressing negative news, which could impact Citizenship by Investment (CBI) passport sales abroad, is also a problem, for they are allied with the corrupt local regime leaders who do not want those lucrative sales impacted in any way. The CBI consultancies also go after journalists who are whistle blowers about corruption, governmental misconduct,  and suspicious official conduct involving money laundering.

Compliance officers in North America should therefore not consider local East Caribbean media stories as truthful, when conducting due diligence inquiries, and should not interpret the lack of negative information about a target subject as positive, for the truth may be suppressed, either by pro-government media, or self-censorship of opposition media concerned about survival.

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