Holier than the Pope

On Feb. 9th, Antilliaans Dagblad, AD, ran an article that quoted the Central Banks of Aruba’s survey, stating that 94% of respondents believe that corruption is widespread in Aruba’s government. The article titled “Corruption Widespread in Aruba,” was based on a 2020 survey by the Central Bank, an annual occurrence, which I already quoted in past columns, over the years.




For the 2020 Report Corruption Survey, RCS, more than 1,200 participants prepared to examine their own perception of corruption, established it was common.

The survey results showed that 94% of participants thought it was widespread and increasing.

In comparison, the similar 2019 survey, showed that just 81% thought so, and in 2018, just 76% were of that opinion.

On the up side, the CBA was pleased to report that 95% of those polled though corruption was unacceptable, they also agreed that whistleblowers should be rewarded for supporting the anti-corruption movement.

They also viewed the Public Prosecution Service and the Aruba Integrity Office, as Most Valuable Players, in the fight against corruption.

The Bank concluded its survey saying that reducing corruption in Aruba is its high priority, because corruption has negative economic and social consequences.

So far so good.

I visited some of my friends in real estate recently, and heard that in its zealous quest to uproot corruption, CBA is murdering the real estate business in Aruba.

The Amigoe di Aruba newspaper recently asked the Aruba Bar Association whether it agreed with the advisory council’s report, that the currently-contemplated amendment of Anti Money Laundering Laws would unduly increase administrative burden on professionals and institutions, subject to CBA supervision.

Meaning, will the proposed legislation overwhelm the business community with paperwork? Is it asking too much as far as compliance?

The Bar Association response was that the problem is not the Anti Money Laundering law and update, which are based on the Financial Action Task Force global standards, FATF, and are similar in other countries in Dutch Kingdom.

The problem is the rather disproportionately strict zero tolerance enforcement of Anti Money Laundering law by CBA, which results in immediate and excessive fines for every conceivable infraction.

Translation? If the CBA decides you did not dig deep enough into the financial nitty-gritty of the poor tourist who decided spontaneously that he wanted a condo in Aruba, it levies a high-six-digit-fine, no warning, no change to fix. It also unnecessarily complicates the process, many potential buyers simply opt out.

CBA rarely uses informal enforcement measures such as warnings and its enforcement is much stricter than that of other supervisors in the Dutch Kingdom.

The fight against money laundering, says the Bar Association, is obviously in the public interest. But so are a healthy economy and healthy service providers, who are not unduly burdened by the disproportionately strict zero tolerance Anti Money Laundering enforcement of the CBA.

Many other professionals and institutions agree with this view of the Aruba Bar Association.



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February 11, 2021
Rona Coster