Low levels of economic growth, hurricane recovery and de-risking are posing challenges for small states that are presently in the fourth round of mutual evaluations in the anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) fight.
This is according to Chairman of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), Attorney General Basil Williams SC.
During his remarks on Friday at the opening ceremony of CFATF Plenary Meeting XLVII held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Williams stressed that under the upcoming 11th European Development Fund (EDF), continuous training and partnership will assist small states to successfully complete this round.
This fourth round deals with the 40 Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and immediate outcomes, the important aspects being technical compliance and effectiveness.
“Resources are being stretched as we all use our best efforts to legislatively strengthen our AML/CFT frameworks, establish measures to deal with Proliferation Financing (PF) and implement the AML/CFT laws and processes to a level that can be considered as ‘High’ or ‘Substantial’ levels of effectiveness”, the AG said. His remarks were released to the media by his Ministry.
While expressing confidence that CFATF members will continue to improve their compliance with the FATF standards and increase levels of effective implementation, Williams said that his work programme has thus far been able to address the important areas of training and funding.
He said that the recently concluded AML/CFT/ Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) training for Judges and Prosecutors which occurred earlier this month in Georgetown, Guyana was the CFATF’s version of the series of ongoing global workshops for Judges and Prosecutors that have been conducted jointly between the FATF and FSRBs as part of FATF President Santiago Otamendi’s mandate during his tenure.
While that workshop was not a joint undertaking with the FATF due to the scheduled dates of the event, he said that he was pleased to state that CFATF was able to provide the FATF with a report on the outcomes, which could be used as part of the overall report on the experiences, challenges and good practices regarding money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF) investigations, prosecutions and confiscations.
“Based on feedback received, the Workshop was a success and provided Judges and Prosecutors with the opportunity to not only enhance their knowledge on the technical requirements pertaining to ML, TF and criminal and civil confiscation, but to take part in practical exercises that highlighted some of the challenges that are faced in having successful matters in this area of the law”, he said while adding that that forum was likely to have been the only one in the global network that presented the issue of CVE and its relationship to terrorism and terrorism financing.
Dozens of judges and prosecutors from a number of Caribbean and Latin America countries including Guyana, Barbados, Antigua, Dominica, El Salvador, the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands participated in the workshop.
Williams told those gathered that he intended to ensure that provided that funding is available that there are other opportunities for training that will enable “us as a Region to increase our application of our laws and in so doing obtain better results in our respective mutual evaluations”. He said that towards this end the CFATF Secretariat is in the early stages of planning an asset recovery training seminar and as such he looks forward to the start of the 11th EDF, which will assist “some of our Members with their Fourth round mutual evaluation implementation requirements”. He informed that there was also an assessors training in January in Georgetown and said that joint assessors training for members with the FATF will take place in in Port of Spain in July.
“In executing our primary mandate, our mutual evaluation programme, which includes the mutual evaluation, follow-up and for our Members thus far, the FATF ICRG process, it is necessary that we collaborate with the Secretariat and each other. Our workload is becoming more grueling in the face of limited resources. I therefore urge all Members to be confident, creative and active participants in the work of the CFATF, not only as it relates to your own mutual evaluation but to the overall work of this organisation”, he said.
He added that CFATF remains committed to partnering with the Cooperating and Supporting Nations (COSUNs), the FATF Secretariat and all observers throughout the Fourth Round of Mutual Evaluations.