Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 25th 2017 Contents news A5
Saturday, February 25, 2017 guardian.co.tt
US FATCA-repeal lobbyist James
Jatras was a defence witness for
ex-Yugoslavian leader Slobodan
Milosovic, who was indicted by
the United Nations' International
Criminal Court on war crimes in-
cluding genocide, extermination,
murder and a host of other atroc-
ities, says Finance Minister Colm
"Jatras was also a consultant for
Kosovo Serb leader (Oliver) Ivanovic,
who was jailed for war crimes.
"He was also an aide to a former US
Senator accused of lewd behaviour
in a US restroom and Jatras was also
criticised by US Muslims for bigoted
remarks about Islam," Imbert added.
Detailing the matters during Thurs-
day's Parliament debate on the FATCA
legislation, Imbert asked the Opposi-
tion: "That's who you want to associate
The response came after Opposition
MP Roodal Moonilal raised questions
about Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley's
recent criticism of Jatras.
Both Imbert and Rowley strongly
condemned Jatras during Thursday's
debate. In the February 13 leg of FATCA
debate, Rowley had warned the Op-
position about Jatras. But Jatras, in a
subsequent media statement, accused
Rowley of "defaming him."
On Thursday, however, Rowley, al-
luding to Jatras' links with Milosovic,
Ivanovic and "all those characters of
that nature," added: "I know of him,
I'm free to declare Jatras a gun for hire...
it's a company you can hire for any-
thing you want...don't come and tell
me what to say in Parliament, saying I
"I have the freedom of speech on
behalf of the people of T&T and you
(Opposition) and Jatras could put that
in your pipe and smoke it. So when
Jatras' point of view is being told to
influence the national population, I
have to tell them dismiss his point of
view, he's making a good living from
whoever pays him."
Imbert pointed out Jatras was a de-
fence witness for Milosovic, who was
indicted during the Kosovo war in 1999
by the UN's ICC Tribunal for the former
He said Milosovic was indicted for
crimes against humanity, including,
genocide, complicity in this, murder,
persecution on political and racial
grounds, inhumane acts, extermina-
tion, imprisonment, torture, unlawful
confinement, suffering, unlawful de-
of property, plunder of private/public
property, attacks on civilians, destruc-
tion of national monuments and those
dedicated to religion.
Improved bill passed
Opposition Leader Kam-
la Persad-Bissessar is happy
that every bank account holder
subject to the FATCA legisla-
tion will be notified by their
financial institution that their
information will be transferred
to the Board of Inland Revenue
for transmission to the US De-
partment of Treasury.
This was one of the clauses the
Opposition ensured would be part
of the amended legislation which
was unanimously passed in the
House on Thursday.
"This provides account holders
with a right to know and to make
sure that correct information has
been transferred," Persad-Bisses-
sar said in a statement yesterday.
The legislation enables local
financial institutions to provide
information on US citizens' ac-
counts to the US IRS.
This will be done through T&T's
BIR. The legislation operational-
ises an inter-governmental agree-
ment between T&T and the US.
The legislation, which came
after five months of debate and
contention by Government and
Opposition, had to be approved
The FATCA system must be
operationalised by September.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert
had said FATCA affected two per
cent of accounts.
After passage in the House of
Representatives, the legislation
must now be passed in the Senate.
Debate is expected after Carnival.
Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said
Opposition members worked to
ensure that citizens' rights were
better protected via amendments
which were made to the legisla-
"The Opposition has always
maintained our commitment to
passing good law, which is why we
stood firm in our resolve that the
bill be examined by a Joint Select
Committee. During that process,
several errors and conflicts were
discovered and fixed," she said.
"As a result of the JSC's work and
important amendments submitted
by the Opposition, we were able to
pass a substantially amended and
improved bill. It's important that
we all understand how these pro-
cedures are expected to operate,
as the legislation changes the way
banks operate locally."
In the amended legislation,
she said, neither the Minister of
Finance nor any politician will
have the right to request sensi-
tive financial information from
an account holder's bank.
Account information will also
not be shared with countries other
than the US.
An annual report will also have
to be laid in Parliament about the
accounts/people (without naming
people) information transferred to
the US under FATCA. All guide-
lines and agreements required to
operationalise the FATCA legis-
lation must now be laid in Par-
"This means the public will
be informed on the details of the
system to transfer their sensitive
financial information," she said.
Persad-Bissessar also said pen-
alties for misuse/breach of con-
fidentiality of personal financial
information have been increased
to deter wrongdoers.
Any future changes to the US
must be laid in Parliament before
the changes take affect.
(See Page A19)
Moonilal to PM:
Who is Government's lobbyist?
That's the question which Oppo-
sition MP Roodal Moonilal wants
Government to answer after Prime
Minister Dr Keith Rowley spoke
about T&T needing a lobbyist.
Rowley did so on Thursday during
debate on the FATCA legislation in
Noting that T&T was making world
news for "the wrong reasons," Rowley
said T&T needed a lobbyist to open
doors for the country and to have the
correct impression of T&T conveyed.
But Rowley said no lobbyist was in-
fluenced last Sunday's call from US
President Donald Trump and T&T
wasn't paying for Caricom's lobby on
de-risking of banks since Caricom's
secretariat was funding this.
Yesterday, however, Moonilal said he
wants to know "who is Government's
lobbyist, what they're paid for or going
to be paid for? It can't be to make T&T
look good when the daily front pages
are always about murder."
Office of the Prime Minister officials
didn't reply yesterday on queries about
the identity of the lobbyist.
Despite unanimous passage of the
FATCA legislation, Moonilal accused
Government of being deceptive on the
issue and stalling the process, since he
said there had been state correspond-
ence to the US since last September
that the Joint Select Committee scru-
tiny of the legislation---which the Op-
position had repeatedly requested---
would be done.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert had
initially announced the JSC would
be done, but Attorney General Faris
Al-Rawi had later said the legislation
would only have been examined by
MPs in the Lower House.
The Opposition had insisted on the
JSC, but it was not done until earlier
this year after debate stalled.
"We could have completed the JSC
process and FATCA a long time ago,
since last year, if Government had
fulfilled its promise to have the JSC
as it told the US it would have done,"
Kamla happy Govt agreed to FATCA changes
COMING UP ROSES
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Calypso Queen of the World McArthur "Calypso Rose" Lewis pose
for a picture with Rose's World Album of the Year award during a courtesy call by the calypsonian to the
Prime Minister's Office, St Clair, yesterday. Rose is having a bumper season this year.
PHOTO COURTESY: OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
Who is T&T's lobbyist?
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