by Linda Straker
Grenada’s House of Representatives has approved legislation that will make it mandatory for Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and charitable organisations to file their Annual Financial Statements at the Registrar of the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO) within 15 days of holding an Annual General Meeting.
Failure to comply with the law can result in directors of the entity being charged as maximum of EC$500,000 or ordered to jail for six months, “or to a further fine of EC$500 for every day or part thereof that the offence continues after a conviction is first obtained,” said the legislation which was presented by Leader of Government Business in the House, Hon. Gregory Bowen, during Friday’s sitting of the House.
He explained that the legislation, which is an amendment to the Companies Act, seeks to amend the Companies Act Cap 58A, to reflect more comprehensively the 40 recommendations and 9 special recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force which Grenada is committed to implement by virtue of its membership in the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.
The Bill also provides for Not for Profit companies to notify the registrar within 15 days whenever there is a change to the composition of the directors. Failure to inform the Registrar is a liable penalty of EC$550 per day until corrective measure are undertaken by the affected entity.
The Attorney-General will also now have the power to examine and inquire into the operations of a not for profit company, into its nature, objects, administration and management; into the value, condition, management and application of the property and income of the company, where the company is suspected of having committed an offence under the Terrorism Act.
Bowen told the House that all these recommendations are necessary as Grenada has to play its role to combat money laundering and other avenues that provides for the “washing” of illegally obtain money into a legal and viable channel.
“There is growing evidence in the world which points to the fact that non government and charitable organisations are used by terrorists organisations, drug dealers and others involved in money laundering, to channel their money through these entities,” he said.
“We in Grenada have to do what is necessary to combat the situation, and to ensure that legislation is in place to stop not for profit companies from becoming victims of these criminal actions,” he said.
All civil society organisations are expected to be affected by this legislation when it comes into effect. They include: Non Government Organisations such as political parties and other developmental organisations, charitable organisations such as churches, as well as social/humanitarian advocacy groups.