The Financial Intelligence Unit of Liberia (FIU), which is now transitioning to the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA), has announced the ongoing second round of Mutual Evaluation of Liberia’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (AML/CTF) regime by the Inter-governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).
The evaluation of Liberia’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards is also in compliance with an enabling statute for members’ states.
Speaking recently at a press conference in Paynesville, Emmanuel Togar Gee, Sr., Officer-In Charge at FIU, said the Mutual Evaluation (ME) is a peer review process during which an assessed country is required to demonstrate technical compliance and effectiveness with FATF and other international AML/CFT/PF standards.
According to him, the country’s AML/CFT/PF regime is being assessed for compliance with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) forty (40) standards and other international best practices.
He said Liberia is a member state of GIABA, an institution of ECOWAS, and a FATF-style regional body working with member states to ensure compliance with international AML/CFT/PF standards.
It can be recalled that Edwin E. Harris, former Director General of the FIU, said in 2010, when the first Round of Mutual Evaluation of Liberia was conducted by GIABA, the country was lacking in almost everything that it takes to prevent and fight crimes related to money laundering and terrorist financing.
Harris, who is now the Director General of GIABA, said with over 11 follow-up reports made over the last eight years and other progress, Liberia has come a long way in the strive to join the region and the rest of the world in fighting money laundering and terrorist financing, despite the many challenges and gaps that exist.
He pointed out that it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to rally to take the fight seriously as commitment and political will flow from the top.
Harris said as part of efforts to show Liberia’s seriousness in the fight, the Ministry of Justice submitted to the National Legislature the criminalization of trafficking in other goods, market manipulations, and insider trading.
However, Gee further said the technical compliance component assesses whether the necessary laws, regulations or other required measures are in force and effect and whether the supporting AML/CFT/PF institutional framework is in place.
“The effectiveness component assesses whether the AML/CFT/PF system is working and the extent to which the country is achieving a set of outcomes (11 Immediate Outcomes),” he said.
Currently, he added, a desk-based review of Liberia’s AML/CFT & PF laws and regulations is ongoing by GIABA Assessors.
The desk-based review is followed by an onsite visit by GIABA Assessors, which is scheduled between September 5th and 16th, review is followed by an onsite visit by GIABA Assessors, which is scheduled between September 5th and 16th, 2022, in Monrovia, Liberia.
Gee said during the onsite visit, that the GIABA assessors are expected to meet with all relevant stakeholders together and or separately to ascertain the application and effectiveness (implementations) of Liberia’s AML/CFT/PF laws viz-a-viz FATF standards.
He used the medium to commend the Government, led by President George M. Weah, for enacting the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) Act, the Anti-Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, Preventive Measures, Proceed of Crimes Act, the Whistleblower, and Witness Protection Act, and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) Act, among others.
Gee said it is also important to note that these legislative enactments are milestone achievements and a statement that money laundering and its predicate crimes (crimes) (ex. corruption, etc.), terrorist financing, and proliferation financing are not tolerated in Liberia; thereby, in compliance with the technical criteria of FATF standards and very relevant to the ongoing mutual evaluation process of Liberia.
“The FIUL wholeheartedly appreciates the guidance of the National AML/CFT/PF Inter-Ministerial Committee of Liberia under the chairmanship of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean.
“The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) Co-Chairman and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Member are notably appreciated for their continued support to the AML/CFT/PF Regime of Liberia,” he added.
Gee further encouraged the technical working group of the mutual evaluation process to continue achieving the objectives of the process and, at the same time, anticipates enhanced coordination, cooperation, and participation from the IMC and all stakeholders of the AML/CFT/PF regime of Liberia, including bank and nonbank financial institutions; competent authorities and law enforcement agencies; designated non-financial businesses and professions, including the lawyers, accountants, dealers in precious metals and stones, etc.; and the public at large, to enable Liberia to get impressive ratings for this second round of mutual evaluation.