FRC attends its international conference

The Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) 24th plenary meeting to combat money laundering and terrorist financing was concluded on Thursday 17th November 2016. The meeting, which was held in Doha State of Qatar, continued for three days in a row and was chaired by the State of Qatar represented by H.E Sheikh Fahad Bin Faisal Al Thani, deputy governor of Central Bank of Qatar, the chairman of National Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Committee and the president of MENAFATF.

The plenary meeting was attended by all member countries and observers. The President of MENAFATF welcomed all the member and observer countries to the State of Qatar and praised the efforts of MENA region to combat money laundering and terrorist financing as well as their willingness to adhere to and implement the international standards aimed at mitigating the risks and threats posed by both ML/TF. After the brief welcoming, the president welcomed to podium the president of Forum of FIUs who then expounded on what the forum achieved during his presidency. He mentioned that these certain key areas constituted the priority of the forum: increasing the written contributions of Forum members so as to be discussed; setting an approach towards the institutional interactions; reinforcing the programs targeted on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing; and how those efforts can be translated into tangible outcome on the ground.

During the three days that preceded the plenary, MENAFATF held technical assistance working groups, mutual evaluation working groups, FIUs Forums as well as national Risk Assessment meetings.

Somalia is an observer in the MENAFATF group and represented by Somalia Financial Reporting Center, which, for the first time, attended its first international conference since it was established in June 2016.

Although countries with observer status were not allowed to participate in the technical assistance working groups (TAWG), FRC representing Somalia succeeded in sitting around the Table of TAWG after submitting an official request to the president of TAWG who was the representative of UAE FIU and, fortunately, he accepted our request. The president then introduced the Somalia Financial Reporting Center to gathering member countries and told the member FIUs in MENAFATF that Somalia had taken monumental strides towards enacting the Anti-money Laundering and Countering the Terrorism Financing Act, and in accordance with this law, the FRC was established.  He also urged all member countries to offer technical assistance and transfer the knowledge they accumulated during the long years of their operations in the field of Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing to Somali FRC.

In this meeting, Somalia FRC was also given a chance to introduce itself to the member countries convening in the hall. The representative from FRC thanked the State of Qatar for the cordial welcoming and hospitality along with the president of the TAWG who made this opportunity possible. He, then, commenced on talking that the Somali Parliament had passed the Act of Anti-money Laundering and Countering the Terrorism Financing in February 2016 and subsequently signed on by the president of Somali Federal Republic. In accordance with this law, certain institutions came into existence such as the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee and Financial Reporting Center. Since it was established, the FRC assumed its leading role as a primary agency responsible for Anti-money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, contacted other competent authorities to raise the level of cooperation and information sharing, initiated a campaign of consultation with reporting entities in order to strengthen the relationship between the two sides, recruited a staff who were given essential trainings about financial investigation and analysis and finally drafted and adopted its annual action plan.

Consequently, the participants were impressed by what Somali FIU had achieved in this short time and congratulated Somalia on this tremendous accomplishment. After the session ended, the first individual reached out to us was the representative from Bahrain FIU, Sheikh Mynah who also happened to be a member in the Egmont Group and heftily praised the FRC for reaching this milestone. She also requested us whether we could share with her the written material regarding the achievements we enumerated in the session.

In the third day of the Technical Assistance Working Groups meeting, FRC was able to convince the Secretariat of MENAFAFT—we thank the secretariat folks for their tireless efforts to provide us with any help they could—to allocate a little time out of their tight schedule so that FRC would present a brief presentation detailing the overall strategy that is formulated to achieve its targeted objectives. After the presentation ended, all member countries of the MENAFATF region hailed the splendid work that Somali Financial Reporting Center had done during this short period it existed and they unanimously pledged their support to Somali FRC. Every single country promised in that meeting that they would assist Somalia in any way that could whether it is technical assistance support or any other support they deem necessary so that FRC would grow into maturity as soon as possible by drawing on and benefiting from the rich experience of the MENAFATF member states.

FRC thanked all countries for their quick and overwhelming response, support and promises and it assured them that it would capitalize on their generous offerings and would follow up on every country in a very expeditious way.

On the sidelines of the plenary meeting, FRC sat down with the upcoming president of MENAFATF’s rotational presidency, the Kuwait FIU director together with UAE representative, to discuss with them on the best way they could help FRC and they reiterated their promises and urged Somalia to become a full member in the MENAFATF so that it would get access to the rich experiences of MENA region member countries in the domain of Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.

FRC also held meetings, on the sidelines of the plenary meeting, with representatives from the US, World Bank, IMF, Egmont Group as well as France. They all welcomed the FRC’s sustained efforts towards a fully operational and independent FIU in Somalia, and they requested us to share with them the presentation which we presented in the meeting.

Financial Reporting Center