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Saturday, July 20, 2024

FIA STRENGTHENS TIES WITH COMPLIANCE OFFICERS TO TACKLE MISUSE OF LIBERIA’S FINANCIAL SYSTEM

Date:

MONROVIA – To augment credibility, the Financial Intelligence Agency of Liberia (FIA) has strengthened its ties with the Compliance Officers Forum of Liberia to help tackle abuse and misuse of Liberia’s financial system.

Addressing members of the Compliance Officers Forum of Liberia on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, FIA Officer In-Charge, Mohammed A. Nasser, accentuated that FIA is well-prepared to exercise its statutory power to take lawful and preventive measures against enablers and launderers who are illegally using the country’s financial system for money laundering and other illicit financial activities for personal gain.

According to him, the Financial Intelligence Agency of Liberia seriously frowns at illicit financial activities allegedly linking individuals and entities that have created a negative reputation for Liberia’s financial system locally and internationally. He disclosed that FIA under his administrative watch is technically ready to enforce stringent Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorists and Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/P) laws, regulations, and sanction powers against supporters of illicit financial activities that undermine the credibility of the country’s financial system.

Mr. Nasser stressed that Section 67.3 of the FIA Act shall be exercised appropriately to have regulatory control over reporting entities that work collectively with the FIA to minimize and prevent illicit financial activities that disadvantage Liberia’s financial system.

Also speaking during the interactive meeting with the Compliance Officers Forum, Mr. Bobbi Q. Harris, FIA Compliance Manager, urged reporting entities to continuously conduct risk-based assessments on existing and expected products and services offered in the banking, insurance, gaming, fintech, and other AML/CFT sectors to help safeguard the country’s financial integrity.

According to the FIA Compliance Manager, reporting institutions in all AML/CFT sectors need to cultivate the professional practice of documenting all identified risks and brainstorming on mitigating measures to minimize and prevent any possible illicit financial threat. He reminded reporting entities to adhere to global AML/CFT standards by frequently conducting due diligence for all entities and individuals who are using the banking, insurance, gaming, and other AML/CFT sectors for transactional purposes.

Mr. Harris stressed that Section 67.3 outlines the lawful powers that the FIA has and, as such, the Financial Intelligence Agency of Liberia is in a comfortable capacity to inspect all reporting entities’ facilities to ensure that they are operating in adherence with the Anti-Money Laundering, Countering the Financing of Terrorists, and Proliferation Financing laws and regulations in Liberia.

A professional and passionate plea has been proposed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Afriland First Bank, Robert Nkous, for the Financial Intelligence Agency of Liberia (FIA), Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to organize continuous training for compliance officers and other banking staff regarding processes and regulatory measures about Anti-Money Laundering, Countering the Financing of Terrorism, and Proliferation Financing laws, regulations, and best practices that are applicable in Liberia and other parts of the world.

Participating in an interactive meeting organized by the Financial Intelligence Agency of Liberia on Thursday, June 20, 2024, Mr. Nkous expressed optimism that Liberian banking staff have huge potential to perform effectively in the discharge of their assigned tasks, but frequent capacity development in the AML/CFT regulatory guidelines, trends, and methods could meaningfully help to promote the culture of compliance among reporting entities that have legal obligations to file reports to the FIA. According to him, quality skills transfer by local and international AML/CFT specialists who are well-experienced could greatly help Liberia achieve the legal benchmark that compliance officers who are supervisors of their respective banks’ compliance departments should be elevated to managerial levels as required by the Liberian AML/CFT law.

He wants the Financial Intelligence Agency of Liberia, GIABA, and FATF to redouble their efforts for AML/CFT compliance regimes and ensure banking staff who are serving as compliance officers are properly trained and certified before seeking elevation to managerial posts to enhance productivity in the execution of their AML/CFT compliance duties.

Also speaking, FIA Officer-In-Charge Mohammed A. Nasser welcomed Afriland First Bank and other banks’ CEOs proposal for the FIA, Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to create training opportunities for compliance officers who work in the banking industry in Liberia. However, he referenced the FIA Act of 2021 that mandates banks and other reporting entities to individually build the capacities of their staff for the effective performance of their AML/CFT compliance obligation in adherence with the Liberian AML/CFT laws and regulations. According to him, Liberia presently has well-experienced compliance officers who can be promoted to managerial positions by banks and other reporting entities to help fulfill international best AML/CFT practices and the FIA Act of 2021. He also mentioned that specialized institutions in Liberia have the requisite skills to conduct training in the AML/CFT regime in fulfillment of what the Liberian law requires.

Mr. Nasser recalled that the FIU, now FIA, and GIABA have conducted AML/CFT training and awareness for compliance officers in Liberia. Indirectly buttressing FIA Officer-In-Charge, Guaranty Trust Bank Managing Director Ikenna Anekwe disclosed that GT Bank’s Head of Compliance, Sualiho A. Donzo, is performing excellently as an AML/CFT compliance practitioner based on AML/CFT knowledge he has obtained and, as such, if his supervisor suggests Donzo’s promotion to a managerial level, it shall be accepted by him and GT Bank’s Board members.

Meanwhile, FIA is expected to meet Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and other senior managers from the insurance, fintech, gaming, and telecommunications sectors shortly to ensure full compliance with Liberia’s AML/CFT law and other regulatory obligations.

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