NIUE IS OFF THE FATF BLACKLIST - Mossack Fonseca & Co.
Legal and current affairs on Panama, the British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, Niue and Seychelles The world's smallest self-governing state, Niue, entered the international financial services arena in 1994 through its International Business Companies Act. Since then, many things have happened throughout the world, from international initiatives with blacklisting policies, to terrorist attacks that have affected the financial services industry and threatened individual liberties. In the light of these events, Niue's resolve to retain its independence and self-determination has remained firm and the responsible development of its international services sector continues to be key to its development. Niue is located in the South Pacific at about 2400 km northeast of New Zealand. The Island is a 259-square kilometre atoll discovered by an expedition led by Captain Cook in 1774. It has been a self--governing nation in free association with New Zealand since 1974 and is a British Commonwealth Associate Member. DECEMBER 2002: Niue is off the FATF Blacklist Bahamas at Forefront of Illegal Money Fight Bahamas Exchange May Get Aid From New Government Mossfon (BVI) Attends International Boat Show in Florida Panama No Longer Under FATF Scrutiny New Government Strategies Aim Towards Higher Customer Services Level Mossfon Group Mossfon Launches Successful "Case Information Service" (CIS) Mossfon Seminar in El Salvador NIUE IS OFF THE FATF BLACKLIST Niue has a parliamentary democracy and the Head of Government is the Premier. It is only natural for small nations to seek economic advancement through the development of a competitive services sector. Their lack of industrial capabilities and limited agricultural potential has made them turn to tourism, financial services and, in a few cases, to telecommunications. Indeed, among most small jurisdictions the common denominator is a financial services sector, which has become particularly important and constitutes a considerable part of their “exports”. This is precisely the case of Niue, a relatively new jurisdiction that has gained the confidence of its users and, despite setbacks caused mainly by misleading press articles and blacklisting policies by the OECD and FATF, has proven to be a reliable and responsible jurisdiction throughout difficult times. This is one of the most important tests any jurisdiction can pass to prove its commitment to the protection of individual rights, especially confidentiality rights, while showing the international community responsibility in the fight against money laundering, terrorism and all other criminal activities. Niue is to be congratulated for one of its most significant achievements, being removed from the Financial Action Task Force list of non co-operative countries and territories in the fight against money laundering last 11th October. The plenary meeting of the FATF arrived at the decision in light of the significant progress made by the jurisdiction in improving its anti-money laundering systems. Most prominent among the immediate and significant improvements that led to Niue's de-listing are the following: Niue's National Assembly has repealed its Offshore Banking Act. At the time the repeal was passed, of the 8 licenses originally issued, only one offshore banking license remained in effect (only until the end of October 2002). This was a responsible recognition of the difficulties of supervising banks that do not have a physical presence within the jurisdiction, although generally these types of banks are also subject to the regulations of their place of operations. Niue was admitted as a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (“APG”) during the 4th Annual Meeting of this organisation held in Kuala Lumpur 22nd to 24th May, 2001. The APG, which was founded in 1998 as an entity committed to the fight against money laundering in Asia and the Pacific with a regional approach, is an autonomous organisation with a close working relationship with the FATF. A new state of the art database has been installed at the Public Registry in Niue, allowing expedient processing of requests, registrations and searches, and thus improving the Registry's services. Niue's Public Registry has always been characterised by its speed, and this new database has enhanced this feature. Registered agents must maintain due diligence records at their office in Niue. These documents will only be disclosed at the order of competent authorities where there are sufficient grounds due to requests for co-operation in criminal investigations. The commitment to review and continuously improve its anti-money laundering regime, which has always been expressed by the Government of Niue. All of the above constitutes improvements to the legal system of the jurisdiction and do not curtail its competitiveness. All of the features that made Niue an attractive option for international investors continue to be there and will be maintained. Earlier this year, the OECD decided not to include Niue on its list of non co-operative countries with harmful tax practices after Niue issued a conditional letter of commitment. It is important to stress that the said letter is a political commitment and does not have the binding obligation implicitly contained in treaties. Therefore, the compliance with the DECEMBER 2002