French ambassador denies two Caribbean countries are on "blacklist"

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Thursday May 30, 2013 – The French Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Jacques Sturm has denied the existence of a “blacklist” that includes two Caribbean community (CARICOM) countries that Paris said were not cooperating in investigating foreign aid fraud.

“I deny that it is a blacklist,” Sturm said, adding that Paris has an official blacklist “which does not concern this issue”.

Both Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica have said they would raise the issue with Paris that also said it would ban the use of their banks to help distribute development funds.

Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told reporters that the information had “taken us by total shock and surprise” while Trinidad and Tobago’s Finance Minister Larry Howai questioned the legitimacy of the categorization indicating that there are no grounds for including Trinidad and Tobago on such a list.

But the French diplomat is quoted Thursday as saying that “what you have heard about is a list that comes from the France Development Bank (AFD).

“It is working list for banking procedures. It is not an official list of the French government,” he told the Trinidad Express newspaper.

AFD is the financial institution and the major implementing agency for France’s official development assistance to developing countries and overseas territories. It is owned by a partnership comprising banks, development agencies, NGOs, Local and Regional Authority, UN and other key institutions. AFD operates in more than 70 countries.

Sturm told the newspaper that the bank had  “certain independence. And when it takes measures on a working basis, it does not imply that the Government agrees. It is a development bank working with development countries on development projects,” he said.

He said the AFD would refrain from using the banks of the countries on the “working list” in terms of its development funding.

The diplomat said that Port of Spain was not the beneficiary of loans or grants from the AFD. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)