9 January 2013

Liberia Gets First Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist

Liberia has set record of being recognized in the hall of global effort of having a trained and qualified specialist in the fight against the prevalence of money laundering. "Our records indicate that you would indeed be ACAMS' first CAMS certified member in Liberia and in fact you are already our only professional member," those were the words of kudos from Jose Victor Lewis, Regional Manager for Africa, Central Asia & the Middle East for Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) to Mr. Edwin W. Harris of Liberia following his registration for the Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (CAMS) September 2012.

Harris, BSC in Economics from University of Liberia and MBA (Strayer University, USA) with concentration in Public Administration, was also given a waiver of portion of his registration fees by ACAMS: "Given that you are completing your graduate studies and are paying out of pocket, I can extend a special rate of US$1,000 for the CAMS package".

Edwin Harris, following a rigorous and comprehensive four months study, got a pass December 10, 2012.

"Congratulations on passing the CAMS exam. You are now part of the prestigious group of CAMS Certified Members", says John J. Byrne, CAMS Executive Vice-President of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS). He then reechoed Harris being the first Liberian acquiring membership in ACAMS as a good foundation for his country and the ACAMS.

Harris was among the GAC and the Liberian Government sponsored 12 scholarship students to the USA. Like some of the scholarship students still pursuing additional certifications to return and enhance the capacity of the government, Harris expected in Liberia by now even when his job was taken away while on study leave.

"I am glad I was able to pass CAMS successfully after a thorough and exciting study and that with my solid requisite background and experience I am going to contribute immeasurably to Liberia's government and the comity of nations fight against money laundering and terrorist financing ", Harris intoned, pleading to the national Legislature to pass the anti"-money laundering and terrorist financing bill. He promised to offer his expertise to member of the National Legislature, Central Bank of Liberia, the Inter-Governmental Action Group against money laundering in West Africa (GIABA) and the Liberian Government.

Money laundering is the process of disguising the illegal origin of the proceeds of crime (notably from drug trafficking, illegal arms trafficking, corruption and other activities relating to organized crime). Illegal funds are usually inserted as cash into the financial system, often through cash-intensive pretence businesses, and then relocated or circulated in the financial system to disguise their illicit origin, hence preparing them for reinvestment into legitimate businesses.

Closely connected with money laundering is the financing of terrorism, or the channeling of legal or illegal funds towards the illegal activities related to terrorism. As both activities can be prevented by similar measures these are usually considered jointly. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) coordinates international efforts to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. In their 40 Recommendations and 9 Special Recommendations, the FATF has outlined the legal framework and basic measures that governments should establish in order to comply with AML/CFT requirements.

Three FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs) coordinate efforts on AML/CFT in Africa, conducting research, developing strategies and conducting mutual evaluation assessments of the AML/CFT frameworks in member countries. These are Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) and Inter Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).

Dr. James F. Kollie of Liberia is the Chairman AML/ CFT Regime and Deputy Minister for Revenue at the Ministry of Finance.

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