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Antigua’s financial sector at risk

Financial expert Avinash Persaud.

ST JOHN’S — Antigua is being warned that the industry responsible for more jobs than anything else, except tourism, is under threat of near total collapse.

Barbados-based financial expert Avinash Persaud said drastic action is needed to save the financial sector and he doesn’t believe politicians are up to the task.

“Caribbean governments do not fully appreciate the threats they are [facing]. [They] do not wish to commit the enormous efforts to change our business model and enormous investment that will be required, but I fear that there’s no alternative,” said Persaud.

The chairman of Intelligence Capital and London Business School said the threat comes from larger nations under the guise of money laundering and tax evasion concerns, but is really aimed at creating an un-level playing field for their Caribbean competitors.

“The large financial centres are going to try, and have been trying, to strangle the Caribbean banking sectors,” said the professor.

“They are imposing regulation that is risk intolerant, that is size intolerant and therefore we have to invest as much in anti-money laundering as large centres.

“The costs to us doing so are so high. They are going to make it expensive to operate in the Caribbean and therefore businesses will move away,” added Persaud.

Persaud argued that most money laundering takes place in the largest financial sectors and so they – and not the Caribbean – should be investing more in regulation.

The Barbados based financial expert said the Caribbean must protect its financial sector.

The professor’s comments came ahead of a major Cariforum financial services conference at which he was a keynote speaker. (Antigua Observer)

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