The Cook Islands is not on the FATF List of Countries that have been identified as having strategic AML deficiencies
Compliance with FATF Recommendations
The last Mutual Evaluation follow-up Report relating to the implementation of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing standards in Cook Islands was undertaken in 2018. According to that Evaluation, Cook Islands was deemed Compliant for 5 and Largely Compliant for 33 of the FATF 40 Recommendations. It was deemed Highly Effective for 0 and Substantially Effective for 5 of the Effectiveness & Technical Compliance ratings.
US Department of State Money Laundering assessment (INCSR)
Cook Islands was deemed a Jurisdiction of Concern by the US Department of State 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR). Key Findings from the report are as follows: -
The Cook Islands is not a regional financial center and has no free trade zones. The Cook Islands is a self-governing democracy, operating in free association with New Zealand. The Cook Islands’ substantial offshore financial sector is an important part of its economy, but also represents its most significant vulnerability to money laundering and terrorist financing activities.
The large offshore financial sector allows the operation of international companies and trusts, including offshore banks and insurance companies. All offshore business conducted from the Cook Islands must be channeled through one of the six registered trustee companies. There are four international banks, and one domestic bank also has an international license. The industry provides a wide range of trustee and corporate services to offshore investors with a tax rate for all offshore entities of zero, guaranteeing tax neutrality. The Cook Islands is a global pioneer in offshore asset-protection trusts, with laws devised to protect foreigners’ assets from legal claims in their home countries. According to the Cook Islands’ Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), as of the end of 2014, there were 2,602 international trusts, 1,079 international companies, and 394 limited liability companies.
The Government of the Cook Islands is committed to diversify the Cook Islands’ economy by strengthening and promoting its financial services sector, but has also taken steps to reduce the risks presented by both the offshore sector and its small domestic financial sector.
There are no international sanctions currently in force against this country.
BRIBERY & CORRUPTION
Rating (100-Good / 0-Bad)
Transparency International Corruption Index N/A
World Governance Indicator – Control of Corruption N/A
Like many other South Pacific island nations, the Cook Islands' economic development is hindered by the isolation of the country from foreign markets, the limited size of domestic markets, lack of natural resources, periodic devastation from natural disasters, and inadequate infrastructure. Agriculture, employing more than one-quarter of the working population, provides the economic base with major exports of copra and citrus fruit. Black pearls are the Cook Islands' leading export. Manufacturing activities are limited to fruit processing, clothing, and handicrafts. Trade deficits are offset by remittances from emigrants and by foreign aid overwhelmingly from New Zealand. In the 1980s and 1990s, the country lived beyond its means, maintaining a bloated public service and accumulating a large foreign debt. Subsequent reforms, including the sale of state assets, the strengthening of economic management, the encouragement of tourism, and a debt restructuring agreement, have rekindled investment and growth.
Agriculture - products:
copra, citrus, pineapples, tomatoes, beans, pawpaws, bananas, yams, taro, coffee; pigs, poultry
fruit processing, tourism, fishing, clothing, handicrafts
Exports - commodities:
copra, papayas, fresh and canned citrus fruit, coffee; fish; pearls and pearl shells; clothing
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber, capital goods
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