Saint Lucia - Corruption
Saint Lucia is ranked 60th out of 175 countries in the 2016 Transparency International Corruption Index. While corruption related to foreign business and investment is not generally believed to be a major problem in St. Lucia, there were some widely publicized allegations against government officials. Access to information is legally guaranteed, and government officials are required by law to present their financial assets annually to the Integrity Commission.
The Parliamentary Commissioner, Auditor General, and Public Services Commission are responsible for combating corruption. Parliament can also appoint a special committee to investigate specific allegations of corruption. The country is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and acceded to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2011.
St. Lucia has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption; notably the Integrity in Public Life Act of 2004. However, while the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, enforcement is not always effective. The 2015 public procurement and asset disposal bill is designed to strengthen anti-corruption laws. Government agencies involved in enforcement of anti-corruption laws include the Royal St. Lucia Police Force, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Integrity Commission and the Financial Intelligence Unit.
In June 2015, twelve Commonwealth Caribbean countries including St. Lucia established a new regional body to enhance transparency and to help fight corruption. The formation of the Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean was presented as a potentially important step forward in regional efforts to support integrity and address corruption. It is hoped that the new body will help to further strengthen public confidence in cross-border initiatives to enhance accountability, knowledge sharing and coordination.
In 2016 media raised allegations of corruption concerning the sale of diplomatic passports, in particular the former SLP administration’s appointment of Walid Ahmed Juffali, a Saudi national, as the country’s permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization. In July 2016the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal reinstated a previously dismissed claim against Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, alleging breach of trust and misfeasance in public office. A judge had dismissed the case in 2015 on the basis that the attorney general did not have standing to bring the claim. In 2013 the attorney general initially filed the claim against Chastanet alleging that during the 2011 general elections as then government minister and candidate for the UWP, Chastanet was involved in the expenditure of more than 102,000 East Caribbean dollars (XCD) ($38,000) of public funds for personal and political benefit.
Money laundering in St. Lucia primarily relates to drug trafficking. Illicit drug trafficking by organized crime rings and the laundering of drug proceeds by domestic and foreign criminal elements remain serious problems for St. Lucia. It is believed financial institutions unwittingly engage in currency transactions involving international narcotics trafficking proceeds. St. Lucia has an offshore banking sector, which is supervised by the Financial Sector Supervision Unit of the Ministry of Finance. Onshore domestic banks are supervised by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. St. Lucia also has a FTZ where investors can establish businesses and conduct trade and commerce outside of the National Customs territory. Activities may be conducted entirely within the zone or between the St. Lucia free zone and foreign countries.
St. Lucia launched a new economic citizenship program in October 2015, but changed its fees and regulations in January 2016. An individual can obtain citizenship for a minimum investment of $100,000 per applicant, $160,000 for an applicant and spouse, or $190,000 for a family of up to four persons. There is no residency requirement and passport holders may travel to most Commonwealth and EU countries without a visa. Application for economic citizenship must be made through a government-approved local agent and requires payment of a background check/due diligence fee. An in-person interview is not required.
There remains a substantial black market for smuggled goods in St. Lucia, mostly gold, silver, and other jewelry, predominantly smuggled from Guyana. There is a black market in high-quality jewelry purchased from duty free establishments in St. Lucia by both local and foreign consumers. Monies suspected to be derived from drug trafficking and other illicit enterprises are filtered into and washed through trading firms.
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