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Anti-money laundering and terrorist financing measures under the microscope

Attorney General Dia Forrester - chairs the Anti Money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Finance (AML/CFT) Commission

Within the next 45 days to two (2) months, the Grenada government is expected to receive the first draft of a comprehensive analysis of its processes, procedures, and policies to combat anti-money laundering, terrorism financing, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which were examined by a team from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), from June 14-26.

This was announced by Attorney General Dia Forrestor, who is also the Chair of the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Finance (AML/CFT) commission, which facilitated the CFATF assessment team that examined the processes, and structures that are currently in place to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and the financing of weapons of mass destruction, and examined the standards of compliance of businesses within the public and private sectors.

Combative measures within the Ministry of National Security, Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Ministry of Finance, the Grenada Authority for the Regulation of Financial Institutions (GARFIN), commercial banks, credit unions, individuals involved in the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme as local agents, CBI marketing agents, the CBI Unit, car dealerships, and other businesses, were among those compared with international best practices for Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) matters during the 2-week evaluation.

Commenting on the exercise during Tuesday’s Post Cabinet media brief in St. George’s, the Attorney General noted that the CFATF mutual evaluations are “peer reviews” where member countries assess each other’s combative anti-money laundering and terrorism financing initiatives.

Noting that there are two (2) basic components for mutual evaluations, the first, she explained, “is a State’s effectiveness”, and the second being “a State’s technical compliance.”

According to Forrester, “the assessment team required evidence that demonstrated that Grenada’s measures to counter money laundering, and terrorism financing are working, and delivering the right results (and) information on the laws regulations and other legal instruments it has in place…”

She affirmed that once the first draft of the comprehensive report that analyses the implementation and effectiveness of Grenada’s measures is available from the CFATF, “our AML/CFT Commission would have the opportunity to discuss, and raise objections to the findings (and) recommendations…”

Forrester, who is the island’s first female Attorney General, pointed out that although the onsite evaluation, which was conducted as part of an ongoing CFATF programme of the Mutual Evaluation of its 25 states and territories of the Caribbean basin, which have agreed to implement common counter-measures against money laundering, and terrorism financing has been completed, there is still a lot to accomplish.

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“We have several more months of work ahead of us to see where we are at as a country in relation to our effectiveness, and technical compliance with AML/CFT matters … and to consider the recommendations made….now that should take us to about May 2022,” she remarked.

While the Attorney General described the “cooperative nature of the players in our industry to tackle these issues,” as one of the “main strengths” coming out of the recent assessment, she said that “it is also one of our shortcomings in so far as it lends itself to an informal approach in both the public and private sectors,” which she indicated “raises our vulnerability to money laundering and terrorist financing.”

The AG expressed confidence “based on the summary received (from the evaluation team) that Grenada is progressing well.

“We think we are progressing very well in terms of our effectiveness, and technical compliance, and of course given the dynamic, and consistently evolving nature of these types of threats we have and there is always room for improvement,” she said.

Additionally, she revealed that at present, “we have a summary of 23 key findings broken down into different heads. Firstly, national risk assessment and coordinated AML/CFT strategy, international cooperation, legal persons and arrangements, preventative measures and supervision, legal system and operational issues, terrorism financing and financing of proliferation.

Speaking on Grenada’s readiness to address AML/CFT matters, the female AG explained that “a risk based approach” is being applied” to dealing with AML/CFT issues, which means that “we identify things either as high risk, medium risk or low risk”.

“Generally in Grenada, our industries that are considered high risk are our commercial banks, our CBI programme, then at the middle level we have our credit unions, and at the lower risk level are the insurance companies, and some of those other types of businesses…

“There is ongoing training in the sector itself to ensure that they understand what has to be done all the time so that there is a consistent high level of compliance.

“Of course it is always an ongoing process because as things evolve in relation to these types of crimes, there have to be creative responses and methods introduced to deal with them from time to time.

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