Minister of Finance and Economy Jean Castellini found himself in the hot seat in front of the National Council on Thursday evening as elected members repeatedly criticised the Government for its tardiness in dealing with January’s Moneyval report, which had heavily criticised Monaco in failing to counter money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.

It should be said that Mr Castellini is very much aware of the importance of complying with the Council of Europe’s standards, as expressed through its Moneyval committee. “The stakes are high. The image of the country depends on it”, Mr Castellini said during the vote on the first part of bill no. 1.077.

Both the Prince’s Government and the National Council have been working to comply with Moneyval, but members of the elected body were very critical of the executive’s earlier slowness, which engendered Moneyval’s criticisms and resulted in Monaco being given the ‘bad boy’ status of being subject to a “reinforced monitoring” procedure.

However, the accusation of slowness was also made by many members of the Council on Thursday in regard to the Government’s subsequent repose to January’s damning Moneyval report.

Members expressed the view that they were being pushed into agreeing to Government texts with insufficient time to examine them.

Another very sore point, according to National Council members, is that professionals who need to deal with the practicalities of guarding against money-laundering have not been given enough information on how to implement more stringent rules. Without being told how to implement the necessary safeguards the weight of criminal responsibility can result in over-zealous interpretations of the rules and regulations.

PHOTO: Minister of State Pierre Dartout looks on as National Council President Brigitte Boccone-Pagès speaks National Council