The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) on Wednesday began a two-day stakeholder’s validation engagement on the development of a national Anti- Money Laundering and Countering Terrorist Financing (AML/CFT) Policy and Action Plan to enhance the protection of Liberia's financial system.
The engagement, which will be concluded today, is attended by key stakeholders in the banking, insurance, extractive, gaming and other sectors.
FIU Director-General, Edwin Harris, who spoke at the opening, explained that the development of a National AML/CFT Policy is important to enhance the full implementation of threats and vulnerabilities identified in the recently released National Risk Assessment Report (NRA), which has put Liberia on par with other countries in the World.
According to him, mitigation methods are put into place to find workable solutions to some of the challenges that are hindering the fight against money laundering and countering terrorist financing regulations.
He mentioned that the validation of the current AML/ CFT Policy and Action Plan is everybody's business and as such, the policy is expected to be released to the public and presented to the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr before the end of this year.
Mr. Harris said the Minister chairs the National Steering Committee that is focused to restore Liberia's image regarding robustly combating money laundering and other financial crimes.
“Every actor in all sectors should be full readiness to adhere to national compliance against AML/CFT regulations,” he intoned.
Also speaking at the validation exercise, the Lead Facilitator and Consultant, Emil Meddy, elaborated that the validation of the policy has the ability to promote the exchange of intelligence to support investigations about AML/ CFT cases and strengthen feedback mechanism to enhance information sharing among every stakeholder in Liberia and outside
According to the Ghana Financial Intelligence Center executive, deepened understanding of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF) risks among competent authorities and the promotion of awareness among stakeholders cannot be overemphasized.
He mentioned that facilitating the reporting of AML/CFT report by actors in various sectors should not be ignored and measures to promote financial inclusion should also be prioritized.
“Adequate measures to facilitate the process of customer due process or Know Your Customers (KYC) in fulfillment of compliance and passage of new AML/CFT regulations; coupled with prohibiting the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction should draw the concern of actors in the public and private sectors in Liberia,” he noted.
Mr. Meddy also renewed repeated calls to stop terrorist groups from having access to finance and logistics, coupled with the passage of the Whistle Blower Act and subsequent implementation, which are positive steps to combat money laundering and other financial crimes.
“NGOs are allegedly noted for facilitating Money Laundering and other financial crimes, adding that this claim has drawn the attention of all financial crimes prevention entities in all parts of the World,” the Ghanaian Financial Intelligence Center executive pointed out.
He further proposed that accountants, lawyers and dealers of gold, diamond and other precious stones need to file a regular Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) and the development of a guideline on the implementation of targeted financial sanctions related to the proliferation of financing of deadly financial acts.