Liberia: 'We'll Take FIU to Another Level'

-- Says Minister Tweah

Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. says the Government will provide support needed to transform the Financial Intelligence Unit into a robust and efficient entity to fight financial crimes in the country.

Minister Tweah, who spoke on Monday, August 10, 2020, at the official opening of the FIUL Library and e-Learning Center in Congo Town, said: "Under the leadership of this Director General and staff of FIUL, the government will take this institution to another level. We are not there yet, although the Director has said the FIUL is at the level of thirty percent, we can do more by moving it from thirty percent to seventy percent of growth."

According to him, it is important for the country to focus its attention on the financial sector, its credibility and transparency of financial data as a way of attracting serious investment. He made reference to the perception about "missing billions," which he noted has damaged the credible image of Liberia. He underscored that no "16 billion" was missing and emphasized that such negative perception hurts the country badly.

He said a lot of things are happening because of the "new vision and the leadership" of the President of Liberia. Leaders, he added, should instead look at opportunities and solutions, rather than problems, and that is what President George Weah is doing.

Minister Tweah commended the FIUL Director General for fruitful conversations held with the government, the US treasury, and other partners to transform the Financial Intelligence Unit.

Staff of the FIUL were encouraged to do more in order that fraud and other anti-corruption activities can be detected or exposed.

He also applauded the government for the level of support toward rebranding the FIUL, and thanked the United States government and its treasury department for the support over the years.

The MFDP boss mentioned the forthcoming business climate conference later this year by the Judiciary geared towards having good financial laws that would attract increased foreign investments in the country.

According to the Minister, during the conference, judges and bankers will sit together and discuss financial and judiciary issues and find a solution to problems, as well as understanding the constraints from the judiciary stand point.

"We will also come up with the anti-corruption conference where the LACC boss will preside over the conference. The anti-corruption conference will break all levels of perception of corruption matter relating to subjection, new ideas and recommendation to move the entity forward, Minister Tweah indicated.

The Director General of FIUL, Edwin W. Harris, said the Library and Learning Center came about as a result of the capacity gap identified through interaction with Compliance Officers at banking institutions, Judges and Prosecutors in the country, regarding financial crimes.

"We also believe that through our interaction with the Compliance Officers at banking institutions, Judges and Prosecutors we saw this capacity gap." He added, we don't have the funds to send people for training abroad annually, so the best way was to get some funds from the government to build our learning center so that FIUL staff, Bank Compliance Officers, Judges and Prosecutors will make use of the center," Harris explained.

In August 2019, Liberia was ranked number fifth in the world for money laundering, but based on the level of work over the past nine months, the report of July 2020, has put Liberia at twenty-nine place amongst money laundering countries.

Harris thanked the government for being "sensitive" to undertaking such a worthy initiative at the FIUL. The entity, he said, over the past nine months made tremendous gains, for example this year July; the FIUL was reconciled (submissive) on a money laundering compliance website and among few agencies like the anti-money laundering agencies of America, Sweden, UK and Hong Kong, as one of several institutions that took practical compliance and enforceable actions in the month of July.

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