By C. Winnie Saywah Jimmy
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Liberia with a mandate of reporting and monitoring of transactions and activities that are suspected to be direct result of proceeds of crime or that is linked to proceeds of crime has held its first organized meeting with financial institutions.
In their consultative meeting held yesterday with key employees of banking institutions, the FIU Officer-in Charge, Alexander N. Duopu, gave an overview of the Unit stating that it draws its authority from Section 67.3 of its Act.
Mr. Duopu said the FIU Act 2012 has a direct mandate of disappointing the network of criminals in their pursuit of financial and other economic related crimes with a vision to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
The FIU has to its credit already an eight-staff management team headed by the Officer-in Charge and has ensured the passage of its Act; it has a board of directors constituted by the President of Liberia, acquired an office building by the government where GIABA has installed its server and with allotted funding from government already, a national strategic action plan has been adopted by the Inter-Ministerial Committee and approved by the Liberia authority, the Ministry of Finance.
Mr. Duopu told members of the reporting entities that part of the FIU functions are to receive and analyze intelligence including suspicious transactions or cash transaction reports pursuant to AML/CFT reporting for reporting entities, government ministries, agencies, quasi-government agencies or institutions, or state-owned entities as required by law.
With the overall mission focused on protecting the integrity of the Liberian economy from criminal networks of money laundering and terrorist financing for the betterment of national and international security economic stability, the FIU has as its core values confidentiality, honesty, integrity, excellence of service, team spirit, accountability, hard work and professional standards.
The Research and Policy Officer, Daniel Johnsons, driving the program through, named the relevant collaborating agencies of the FIU as the Central Bank of Liberia, Customs/Revenue, and the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy serving as supervisory authority.
Other agencies are the Law Enforcement Authority which comprised of the police, DEA, NSA, Ministry of Labour, Transitional Crimes Unit, LACC, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Security while the financial institutions which include all commercial banks and designated non-financial business and services fall under the reporting entities.
Mr. Johnson explained how GIABA as the regional body of West Africa is fully clothed with addressing issues to ensure that member states in the region are protected. He said just after the civil crisis, Liberia was at the verge of being called non-compliant and that would have placed the country into serious international threat.
He said the way forward is to have compliant officers, suspicion transaction form, cash transaction forms to be validated by the reporting entities which put them in a strategic position in their collaboration with the FIU.