The United States and other economic powerhouses forced Caribbean nations to enact regulations to combat money laundering while failing to enforce similar rules in their own jurisdictions.
Jagdeo told a conference of the Caribbean Association of Indigenous Banks late Monday that regional officials should speak out against "tremendous double standards" imposed by developed nations against Caribbean countries with offshore finance industries that have long been considered money-laundering hotspots because of banking secrecy laws.
He said Caribbean countries must not create "undue burdens" for their ecomomies "just to satisfy some notion of probity that even countries that recommend the probity don't practice themselves."
Jagdeo and other regional leaders complained that money laundering occurs on a large scale in powerful countries such as the U.S. and the United Kingdom, but that only small nations they have tightened regulation of their offshore sectors since the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force put five islands or territories - the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica - on a tax haven blacklist in 2000.
Regional officials say offshore banking is one of the profitable routes left to small nations.
Jagdeo urged Caribbean governments not to automatically bow to outside pressure for banking laws that harm their finance sectors.
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