A visiting delegation of the Inter-Government Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has congratulated the CBL for its continuous support to GIABA over the years and its commitment to AML/CFT (Anti-money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism) in Liberia and also spoke of the need for collaboration between CBL and Financial Intelligence Unit of Liberia (FIUL) for the mutual benefit of the two institutions.
The Director-General of GIABA, Justice Aba Kimelabalou said the visit is an advocacy mission to encourage political leaders to provide support for the AML/CFT in the country based on a recommendation by the Evaluation and Compliance Group (ECG) of GIABA on the lack of progress with regard to the pending legislations. The legislations, he said include the Financial Intelligence Agency draft Act and Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, Preventive Measures and Proceeds of Crime draft Act; and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) which is experiencing the lack of resources. He also spoke of the lack of progress on the National Risk Assessment (NRA), which is also a resource issue.
Director General Kimelabalou also emphasized that there is a need for Liberia to make progress at addressing these deficiencies, given the fact that the country is due to undertake its second Mutual Evaluation in 2022.
He said GIABA will continue to support Liberia to ensure that the outstanding deficiencies are adequately addressed.
For his part, the Director of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Mr. Modibbo R. HammanTukur, stressed the need for collaboration between the CBL and the FIUL. The success of the FIUL, he noted, largely depends on the support from the CBL. Mr. Tukur also disclosed that NFIU and the Financial Intelligence Center (FIC) of Ghana are sponsoring FIUL membership to the Egmont Group; an international organization of national FIUs that facilitates cooperation and intelligence sharing between national FIUs to investigate and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.
The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Mr. J. Aloysius Tarlue, Jr., in response, commended the GIABA delegation for the visit and promised to enhance collaboration between the Bank and the FIU. Governor Tarlue noted that illicit cross border activities pose a threat to the entire region and spoke of the need for all central banks to work along with their respective FIUs to help control such activities. He urged GIABA to exercise flexibility in its evaluation of Liberia, though not compromising FATF standards, given the numerous challenges the country has been confronted with since it joined the framework.
Governor Tarlue also stated that the Bank has been giving support to the FIUL in the past and will continue to do so. The CBL the Governor noted has committed both financial and human resources to the process, including the National Risk Assessment (NRA) initiative.
Regarding the second round of Liberia's Mutual Evaluation, which is expected in 2022, Governor Tarlue indicated that CBL will commit staff to the process, including senior staff with AML/CFT experience.
The Director-General of FIUL, Mr. Edwin W. Harris, who also attended the meeting, welcomed the visit and hoped for continued collaboration between the CBL and the FIU. He said the Unit is prepared to work along with the CBL without undermining its independence.
The meeting was attended by officials of FIUs from Nigeria, Ghana, and Burkina Faso, as well as the head of the FIU Forum and other senior staff of GIABA. The Deputy Director for Economic Planning, Dr. Musa Dukuly, the Director of Supervision and Regulation Department, Mr. Fonsia Mohammed Donzo and Assistant Director for AML/CFT Unit at CBL, Mrs. MurellaBedellFahnbulleh also participated in the meeting, which was held at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).