CHIEF Minister Fabian Picardo has lashed out at UK MP Keith Vaz for criticising Gibraltar as a haven for laundering drug money in the House of Commons.
Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, accused the Rock of being a gateway for money profited from the drugs trade into the world financial system.
“The drugs trade is worth some $380 billion a year, most of which enters the financial system, some through offshore areas such as Gibraltar,” he claimed.
Vaz, who briefly held mistrial responsibility in Gibraltar, added: “We need to be sure that authorities cooperate.”
In retaliation, a furious Picardo has written to Vaz to defend the Rock.
“I am outraged at the untrue way in which you have specifically linked Gibraltar with the introduction of the proceeds of drug trafficking into the financial system,” he said.
“You have given the impression, totally erroneously and without any factual basis, that Gibraltar is a gateway for sums – possibly colossal amounts – of illegal proceeds into the world financial system.
“You cannot imagine the distress your throw away remarks have caused me, the government and the fiercely loyal people of Gibraltar.”
Picardo’s letter goes on to list seven facts which clarify the Rock’s strict financial regulations, demanding Vaz take heed of them and publicly correct his statements.