Countries/Jurisdictions of Primary Concern - St. Maarten

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Report

Sint Maarten is an autonomous entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Sint Maarten enjoys sovereignty on most internal matters and defers to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in matters of defense, foreign policy, final judicial review, human rights, and good governance. Money laundering is primarily related to proceeds from illegal narcotics trafficking. Bulk cash smuggling and trade-based money laundering may be problems due to the close proximity to other Caribbean islands and Saint Martin, the French part of the shared island, which is also a free trade zone. Sint Maarten does not have an offshore banking industry. Many hotels operate casinos on the island, and online gaming is legal and subject to supervision.

Sint Maarten’s favorable investment climate and rapid economic growth over the last few decades have drawn wealthy investors to the island. Many invested money in large scale real estate developments, including hotels and casinos. In Sint Maarten, money laundering of criminal profits occurs through business investments, purchases of real estate, and international tax shelters. Its weak government sector continues to be vulnerable to integrity-related crimes.

For additional information focusing on terrorist financing, please refer to the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism, which can be found at: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/

Do FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONs engage in currency transactions related to international narcotics trafficking that include significant amounts of U.S. currency; currency derived from illegal sales in the U.S.; or illegal drug sales that otherwise significantly affect the U.S.: NO

criminalizATION OF money laundering:

“All serious crimes” approach or “list” approach to predicate crimes: All serious crimes

Are legal persons covered: criminally: YES civilly: YES

Know-your-customer (KYC) rules:

Enhanced due diligence procedures for PEPs: Foreign: YES Domestic: YES

KYC covered entities: Banks, lawyers, insurance companies, casinos, customs, money remitters, the Central Bank, trust companies, accountants, car dealers, administrative offices, Tax Office, jewelers, credit unions, real estate businesses, notaries, currency exchange offices, and stock exchange brokers

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS:

Number of STRs received and time frame: 4,267: January – July, 2015

Number of CTRs received and time frame: Not available

STR covered entities: Banks, lawyers, insurance companies, casinos, customs, money remitters, the Central Bank, trust companies, accountants, car dealers, administrative offices, Tax Office, jewelers, credit unions, real estate businesses, notaries, currency exchange offices, and stock exchange brokers

money laundering criminal Prosecutions/convictions:

Prosecutions: 2 in 2015

Convictions: 4 in 2015

Records exchange mechanism:

With U.S.: MLAT: YES Other mechanism: YES

With other governments/jurisdictions: YES

Sint Maarten is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), a FATF-style regional body. Its most recent mutual evaluation can be found at: https://www.cfatf-gafic.org/index.php/documents/cfatf-mutual-evaluation-reports/sint-maarten-1

Enforcement and implementation issues and comments:

Sint Maarten’s new Penal Code, which went into effect on June 1, better regulates crimes such as terrorism financing and money laundering, with the requisite penalties.

The National Ordinance Reporting Unusual Transactions establishes an “unusual transaction” reporting system. Designated entities are required to file unusual transaction reports (UTRs) with the financial intelligence unit (FIU) on any transaction that appears unusual (applying a broader standard than “suspicious”) or when there is reason to believe a transaction is connected with money laundering or terrorism financing. If, after analysis of an unusual transaction, a strong suspicion of money laundering or terrorism financing arises, those suspicious transactions are reported to the public prosecutor’s office.

In 2014, an independent auditor, commissioned by the Governor of Sint Maarten, released a report on the integrity architecture of the government. According to the report, Sint Maarten currently faces a substantial shortcoming in accountability that is largely attributable to a lack of enforcement across a full spectrum of integrity-related laws, policies, and procedures.

In July, Sint Maarten’s FIU reported that hundreds of unusual financial transactions investigations are backlogged at the Sint Maarten Public Prosecutor’s Office. Approximately 1,138 reports totaling $243 million have not been investigated.

The harbor of Sint Maarten is well known for its cruise terminal, one of the largest on the Caribbean islands. The local container facility plays an important role in the region. Larger container ships dock their containers in Sint Maarten where they are picked up by regional feeders to supply the smaller islands surrounding Sint Maarten. Customs and law enforcement authorities should be alert for regional smuggling and trade-based money laundering and value transfer schemes.

In March, 2015 a judge of the Court of First Instance convicted a brothel owner who is a former member of Parliament, the club’s manager, and a companion on charges of money laundering, tax evasion, bribery, and trafficking in persons.

Sint Maarten has a tax information sharing network with 88 jurisdictions. In 2015, Sint Maarten made some improvements to its legal framework, which now ensures the availability, access, and exchange of information. However, there is a noted lack of oversight and enforcement of this legal framework. In practice, there is also limited use of compulsory powers.

The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United States extends to Sint Maarten. As part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sint Maarten cannot sign or ratify international conventions in its own right. Rather, the Kingdom may arrange for the ratification of any convention to be extended to Sint Maarten. The 1988 Drug Convention was extended to Sint Maarten in 1999. In 2010, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime was extended to Sint Maarten, and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism was extended to the Netherlands Antilles, and as successor, to Sint Maarten. The UN Convention against Corruption has not yet been extended to Sint Maarten.