FIU Embarks on Money Laundering Bill -Validation Process Begins to Move Liberia Ahead

By: Rancy S. Teewia 

The Financial Intelligence Unit of Liberia (FIU) has commenced the validation of three legal Anti-Money Laundering/Countering of Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) instrument process for onward submission to the office of the president of the Republic of Liberia, George M. Weah, to be forwarded to the Liberian Legislature to be passed into law. This instrument includes: Regulation on enhanced due diligence in the provision of financial services to politically exposed persons (Regulation on PEPS), Regulation on targeted financial sanctions against Terrorist, and the Financial intelligence Agency Act, 2019.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, in Monrovia, at the auditorium ground floor of the Central Bank of Liberia, the Assistant Director, Corporate Affairs of the Financial Intelligence Unit of Liberia (FIU), Bobby Quiwu Harris, said the Inter-Government Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) of ECOWAS conducted a Mutual Evaluation (ME) of Liberia’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime in November 2010.

Harris noted that the result of the ME was a report adopted by GIABA plenary in May, 2011, pointing significant deficiencies in Liberia’s AML/CFT regime, and that Liberia has since addressed significant components of these deficiencies.

He however said in the final report of the GIABA 30th Technical Commission Plenary Meeting held from 11th to 16th November 2018 in Banjul, the Gambia, Liberia was admonished to continue to make progress on the remaining deficiencies. Specially, Liberia was urged to report on progress made on the below listed deficiencies to the GIABA Secretariat before the 32nd Technical Commission/Plenary Meeting in November 2019 to be held in Dakar Senegal.

FIU Assistant Director for Corporate Affairs Harris further stated that issues which needed to addressed before the next Technical Commission/Plenary meeting in November, 2019 included criminalizing the full range of predicate offences; and well as effectively implementing preventive measures among DNFBPS as well as monitor and supervise DNFBPS; establishing appropriate legal framework for timely access to beneficial ownership information; establishing appropriate legal framework for NPOs in accordance with the revised FATF standards; the issuance of regulations or procedures for effective implementation of Mutual Legal Assistance regarding the Financial Intelligence Agency Act; and the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, Preventive Measures and Proceeds of Crime Act, among many other provisions.

“The country’s failure to pass, approve and publish these legal instruments could lead to several consequences, including possible downgrade of Liberia by the GIABA at the next plenary meeting,” Harris noted.

Also speaking, the Deputy Director for Regulation and Supervision Department at the Central Bank of Liberia, Fonsia Mohammed Donzo, said the law of money laundering should be given serious attention because if the process is not done well, at the GIABA plenary which is in November, this law must at least be sent to the legislators.

“And if we can do that, Liberia will be downgraded and if Liberia is downgraded, one of the major impacts is that no international partner or financial institution will do business with Liberia; and secondly, no investor will like to do business, because they will say Liberia is not safe because we have criminals operating in our system so let do our best to process this document, so that we can send it to the president and so he can forward it to the legislature to be passed into law,” Donzo stressed.

He also said some time ago Liberia was placed on the watch list of financial action task force (FATS) for money laundering, noting, “FATS are the standard setter when it comes to money laundering and financing, policy and procedures; and it took a time for Liberia to get out of that watch list.”

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