Antigua & Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne isn’t mincing his words with regards to the recent US-published International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, which singled out Caribbean CIP-countries with the label “major money laundering jurisdictions” and also alleged an increase in drug trafficking in the region. The report further expressed concern with regard to political influence over the region’s Citizenship by Investment programs, concerns which the countries in question have gone to great lengths to allay.
“They have become more and more hostile to countries in the Caribbean including Antigua and Barbuda,” said the PM over the weekend, according to the Saint Kitts & Nevis Observer, and continued: “But when they write up these false things, when they come with these audacious mendacities, they are undermining the relationship between the United States and CARICOM countries.”
Browne’s statement follows a similar reaction from Saint Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, who last week responded to American concerns by calling for further regional integration of the programs.
Gaston Browne calls attention to a number of demonstrably false allegations in the report.
“They say, for example, that we have several casinos involved in money laundering. There is one casino operating in this country and that’s Kings Casino. The other two are closed. They say we have passed laws to tax the offshore banks [and that] we have not taxed them. We have not only taxed them but we have collected the funds. So again, factually incorrect.”
Commenting on claims of increased drug trafficking in Antigua, Browne said “there is no evidence produced to confirm that.”
“I know they don’t like my style cause I’m not going to cow down to them. They not going to beat me to the ground. When you lie, you just lie,” he said.
This isn’t the first time the Antiguan Prime Minister has rebuked the Americans for what he considers intimidation by a bigger country. Read also: Antigua PM Browne Chastises Rich Countries For “Undermining Development” of Small States by De-Risking