10 Oct 2002

Cooks accuses OECD of financial terrorism

5:00 pm on 10 October 2002

The Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister is accusing the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development of hypocrisy and financial terrorism against developing countries blacklisted for money laundering.

Sir Geoffrey Henry says the OECD is hypocritical because it targets developing countries and not the wealthier nations where money laundering may be occuring.

Jason Brown reports.

"It's the second time that the Cook Islands have attacked the world's most developed nations over their attempts to force tougher rules on money-laundering. Earlier this year the government caused an uproar when Prime Minister, Dr Robert Woonton, said they would pass new rules as soon as developed nations did the same. Now his Deputy, Sir Geoffrey Henry, has made similar comments - only stronger. He is accusing members of the Organisation of Economic Cooporation and Development of what he describes as gut wrenching hypocrisy. He says the OECD is using the war on terror to force small countries into passing tough money laundering laws the big countries do not want to follow themselves. Sir Geoffrey told police chiefs from around the region, meeting in Rarotonga, that the OECD had promised help, but instead made veil threats about aid to small countries."

The OECD removed the Cooks from its blacklist after the government committed itself to tightening its tax and offshore banking laws.

However, the Cook Islands is still blacklisted by another international watchdog group, the Financial Action Task Force, which has threatened sanctions against it.

A meeting of financial intelligence officials and tax experts is underway in Paris to review the FATF blacklist.