In order to prevent the country from being blacklisted by other foreign reserve institutions around the world, authorities at the Financial Intelligence Unit of Liberia (FIUL) on Monday, August 10, 2020, launched an appeal to the government through Members of the 54th National Legislature, to provide a minimum of US$1.5 million budgetary support to the entity.
The amount in question, according to Edwin W. Harris, FIUL Director General, when provided, will help the institution to work efficiently and independently carry out its responsibility smoothly.
The FIUL is the national competent authority established under the FIUL Act of 2013, to serve as the central national agency responsible for the effective implementation of AML/CFT related activities in Liberia.
The FIUL’s efforts to ensure the effective implementation of AML/CFT measures of acceptable international standards in Liberia rest continuously on capacity building and the availability of operational tools to get the job done.
Mr. Harris, who spoke yesterday at the official launch of the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Library and e-Learning Center in Monrovia, said in the current fiscal budget year (2020-21), the institution stands to benefit from the amount of US$600,000, which he said is not adequate enough to run the affairs of FIUL.
He said the FIUL, set up by Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., is being under resourced, and “we need adequate resource for the FIUL, to show that the FIUL is working and the resource provided by the FIUL is working.”
The FIUL Director General further explained: “We have key legislations (laws) to be passed, and we stand to be blacklisted if the government do not provide adequate resource to do the FIUL’s work; if those key legislatures aren’t passed, the possibility of being blacklisted, sanctioned is there,” he said.
He continued, “And what does it do when you are a blacklisted correspondent? If you want to wire money to China, it will not work; to send money from America to Liberia will not work as well as it scares investors away. So if government cannot provide adequate resources now, if, God forbid, we are blacklisted, the government will spend millions of dollars as deficit and it will cause reputation damage and risk.”
“So, I am using this medium to call on the Liberia National Legislature to jointly look through and give a reasonable amount of budgetary support that shows it is adequate to run the affairs of the FIUL,” he said.
According to him, in 2019, Liberia has been ranked 5th in the entire world in money laundering, but based on the work the FIUL has done over the last few months, he said the latest reports of July 2020 show significant improvement, which carries Liberia to the 29th place as moderate money laundering risk country, which “I think could not have been possible without help from GoL and corporation from our banks and other financial institutions across the country.
“We have a lot of challenges at FIUL; in fact the new law that is currently at the National Legislature is to dissolve the board of the FIUL and make the Minister of Finance the head for the national coordinating committee, which places more responsibility of the FIUL on the shoulder of the Finance Minister,” he said.
“We want to thank the government for being so sensitive to this initiative. The FIUL over the last nine months has made significant gains. For example, in July this year, we were recognized on moneylundery.com, among few other FIUs like the United States of America, Sweden, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. We were recognized because we took concerted actions on money laundering and we feel that without the government’s support we could not have come this far. So we want to say a big thank you the Liberian government so far,” Mr. Harris said.