Liberia Assures Int’l Community of Commitment to Fighting Money Laundering, Financing of Terrorism

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In the wake of the recent downgrading of Liberia’s status on Anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime last May by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Milton A. Weeks, led a four-man delegation arrived in Busan, South Korea, last week to attend the 2016 Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary Meetings from June 18-24.

Liberia’s AML/CFT status was downgraded by GIABA due to deficiencies and/or inadequacies of the domestic laws of Liberia based on GIABA’s and FATF’s assessment.

On June 22 in Busan, Governor Weeks held a joint meeting on the sidelines of the FATF Plenary meetings with the Director General of GIABA, Mr. Adama Coulibaly and Ms. Masha Rechova, Policy Analyst of FATF responsible for West Africa to discuss the recent downgrading of Liberia by GIABA. Also attending the meeting was Dr. Buno E. Nduka, Director of Programme and Projects at GIABA.

During the meeting, the Executive Governor assured GIABA and FATF of the Liberian Government’s commitment to address the deficiencies noted on Liberia by both institutions as evidenced by his presence in Busan. He informed the meeting that with the recent election of Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as the new Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Liberia is committed to the improvement of the AML/CFT regime of the country. He called on GIABA and FATF to continue their support to Liberia in this effort.

The Director-General of GIABA assured Governor Weeks of the support of GIABA, while Ms. Rechova clarified that the recent downgrading of Liberia by GIABA is intended to provide the incentive for Liberia to expedite the process of strengthening the country’s AML/CFT Regime, particularly the terrorist financing laws. She further mentioned that Liberia was one of a few countries that need to have in place a terrorist financing law and that this would be to the advantage of the country by the time of the next mutual evaluation assessment by GIABA. She assured the delegation of FATF’s support to Liberia in this effort.

GIABA, a specialized institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) established by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in the year 2000, is responsible for strengthening the capacity of member states towards the prevention and control of money laundering and terrorist financing in the region and responsible for facilitating the adoption and implementation of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (CFT) in West Africa.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions, currently comprising 35 member countries, including the G-20 countries and 2 regional organizations. The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally. In collaboration with other international stakeholders, such as GIABA, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

Other members of Governor Weeks’ delegation include Mr. Alexander Cuffy, Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Cllr. Joseph Jallah, Legal Counsel of the CBL and Mr. Mussah A. Kamara, Director of Regulation and Supervision Department at the CBL.

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