Changes to the Offshore Companies and Proceeds of Crime Acts Need to be stopped!

In supporting changes to the law aimed at making the offshore less transparent and an easier place to hide dirty money, the LDS appears to be trying to turn the Seychelles into a jurisdiction of financial secrecy where criminals can bank with impunity. It is intentionally supporting changes in legislation for the primary benefit of a small number of offshore insiders and their overseas clients. In so doing, they are placing Seychelles at risk of mistrust and sanction by the international community. At the economic level, they are heightening the risk of loss of international banking services to businesses and ordinary people alike. At the domestic level, they are making it more difficult and even impossible to confiscate the banked monies of drug-trafficking kingpins, many of whom sponsored LDS for the last two National Elections.

Most ordinary people and even many MNAs don’t understand the underlying motivation behind the amendments. It seems that the LDS has been misled into supporting legislation that is bad for the country. It has been misled by a number of irresponsible insiders from the offshore sector. Their interests are represented in the Assembly by Ahmed Afif, who has denied to the Assembly that he was linked to a particular company associated with offshore financial services interests.  Documents shown to this paper suggest otherwise.

What is clear is that there is a concerted agenda by a small number of offshore insiders to undermine transparency in the offshore, the rule of law and the ability of the State to protect its financial services from being abused by criminals and terrorists. Consciously or unconsciously, the LDS has allowed itself to be hijacked for this purpose and been persuaded to vote as the majority to support the first of these abortive amendments.  The thrust of the amendment was to ensure that the identities of the Directors of offshore companies could   remain hidden from all public access (from banks, journalists or ordinary members of the public alike). Such ‘anonymous’ companies are in great demand by those conducting criminal and even terrorist enterprises because it enables them to conduct trading activities and move funds anonymously. This scenario will also provide a fertile ground for corruption. A good example is the use of a number of Seychelles offshore companies to breach the sanctions against North Korea’s nuclear missile programme between 2009 and 2015.

A more informed Parti Lepep member of the National Assembly rejected the bill and has stated that he will not recommend the bill be assented by the President. It is critically important to the economic welfare of this country and to its international reputation that the President does not give his assent.
A victory sign for money laundering

It is not clear why this type of legislation was given priority in the first few months of the National Assembly’s term.  Sources close to the party deny that they received election funding from those pushing the legislation. Other stakeholders such as the Bar Association don’t seem to have even been consulted. What is clear is that Seychelles has become a ‘captured state’, where the offshore financial services interests have gained control of the domestic political opposition which controls the Assembly.  Laws governing the offshore financial services sector are being created by a very small number of offshore insiders in collaboration with offshore financial services overseas. Their clear intent is to make the Seychelles a secrecy jurisdiction, a money laundry they can sell around the world for their own profit at a time when every other country in the world is tightening its regulatory environment.

Government has done well to expose the very misguided offshore companies (IBC) Act and must do so again with the POC Act. President Faure must put the interest of Seychelles first and foremost in considering any changes in the law in relation to the IBC Act.

Independent

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