FIU Fines Orange Money Liberia

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 … for suspicious mobile money transactions

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Liberia in keeping with section 67.3 (n) of the Financial Intelligence Unit Act of 2013, and section 3.2.2 of the Regulation on Suspicious Transactions Reporting for Financial Institutions fined Orange Money Liberia L$337,500 for failing to file the Suspicious Transaction Report.

But the company said in its reaction pertaining to the fine, “Orange Money Liberia, as a financial institution will continue to engage and collaborate with our regulatory partners at all times. Orange Money Liberia is in full engagement and consultation with the office of FIU, following the receipt of their communication.

“Orange Money Liberia is ensuring that all compliance-related issues are addressed accordingly,” the entity said in response to a Daily Observer inquiry concerning the fine.

FIU Director-General, Edwin W. Harris, Jr., at a news conference in Monrovia on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, told reporters that the imposition of the fine is a result of an on-site Anti-money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) compliance monitoring of Orange Money conducted by the FIU from April 23 to 25, 2019.

“The exercise was necessitated by the failure of Orange Liberia Mobile Money to submit a single Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) to the FIU since 2017,” Harris said.

He said the FIU mandated Orange Money to present an official (Government of Liberia) revenue receipt to its offices within 72 hours or face additional actions in keeping with the laws and authority of the FIU.

“FIU in pursuant to section 4.1 of both the Suspicious Transactions, and Currency Transactions Reporting regulations of 2016 and section 67.3 (n) of the FIU Act of 2013, will issue a new circular amending sections 2.1 of both Suspicious Transactions Reporting and Currency Transactions Reporting regulations to make sanction proportionate and dissuasive,” he said.

Mr. Harris said the current sanction regime creates incentives for wrongdoing, and will no longer be tolerated after this administrative fine levied against Orange Money Liberia.

“The FIU will be instituting whistle-blower hotline numbers to the public for the community to participate in reporting incidents of money laundering, properties related to the procedure of crimes and other predicate offenses,” he said.

Harris then encouraged whistle-blowers to come forth with information to assist the workings of the FIU, and will receive compensation percentages of whatever amounts recovered from information given to the FIU.

He called on all reporting entities in furtherance to its zero-tolerance stances on non-compliance to take their Anti-money Laundering and Countering Terrorist Financing obligations seriously.

“Going forward,” he said, “the FIU will take actions in keeping with laws on all non-compliant reporting entities.”

Mr. Harris has meanwhile given Orange Money Liberia 90 days (three months) as of November 6, 2019, to take corrective actions to avoid such occurrence.

In email communication, Betty Flahn told Daily Observer that “Orange Money Liberia, as a financial institution, will continue to engage and collaborate with our regulatory partners at all times.”

she said Orange Money Liberia is in full engagement and consultation with the office of FIU, following the receipt of their communication and ensuring that all compliance-related issues are addressed accordingly.

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