FIU Announces Liberia’s Removal from Downgraded Status by GIABA

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With the exit of Liberia from the enhanced expedited reporting process, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Liberia has announced Liberia’s automatic removal from its previous downgraded status by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in West Africa (GIABA).

GIABA is a specialized institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) responsible to facilitate the adoption and implementation of anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures.

The decision taken by GIABA’s regional body on Liberia, according to a press statement from the FIU, was due to the country’s progress in addressing some of the deficiencies in its Anti-Money Laundering regime.   

The Technical Committee recognizes the tremendous progress made by Liberia from November 2019 to present in solving some of the deficiencies in its Anti-Money Laundering regime. 

GIABA took the action recently at the just ended 34th Plenary held in Somone, Senegal from December 4-14, 2020.

Liberia is now set to begin preparation for its second round of Mutual Evaluation that will further gauge the country’s technical and effective compliance to the FAFT Recommendations. 

It can be recalled that GIABA, during its plenary meetings in Dakar, Senegal from November 10-16, 2019, Liberia was downgraded — meaning it will report every six months, instead of the usual one year, on progress made in meeting international money laundering and terrorist financing standards and requirements.

Additionally, GIABA Plenary has instructed the Director General of GIABA to undertake a major advocacy mission to Liberia early next year to sensitize the authorities in Liberia on the significance of the FIU operations and the passage of key laws to bring Liberia into full and technical compliance with the FATF Recommendations. 

National Risk Assessment for Money Laundering

The FIU said as head of the steering and coordinating committee is pleased to inform the public that, the National Risk Assessment on Liberia has been submitted to partners, namely: GIABA, the World Bank and the US Treasury, for technical review and it is expected to be published and distributed to all stakeholders and the private sector when approved for integration into their anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing risks and mitigation plans.

The FIU extends its thanks to the Government of Liberia and partners for the funding and technical support in the completion of the National Risk Assessment of Liberia. 

Prevention of Filing of Defectives and Non-redeemable Bonds in Corruption Cases

Beginning January 2021, the FIU will commence working closely in consultation with the Supreme Court of Liberia to put a halt to issuance of defective and non-redeemable bonds in corruption cases filed by Insurance Companies operating in Liberia.

The release said that FIU believes that most corruption, fraud and bribery cases have been undermined by some insurance companies issuing bonds way beyond their capacity and financial liquidity. This practice, the release said, allows some Insurance Companies to serve as an enabler to these alleged corrupt individuals and institutions for which bonds are issued to begin their escape plans out of our Court’ system. 

“The FIU would like to remind the public that the issuance of these defective bonds is a crime under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2012. Pursuant to this, the FIU will prevent this action and will enforce the law without fear and favor commencing next year (2021). In view of the foregoing, the FIU will be submitting to the Supreme Court and all Circuit Courts in Liberia a list of insurance companies and the threshold on bond amounts they can issue based on their financial liquidity which empower their capability to redeem such bonds,” the statement concluded.

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