By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
The Board of Directors of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has formally inducted into office its Executive Director Alexander Cuffy together with his deputy, Gabriel Bellepea, thus making one to safely say that the FIU administrative structure is completed and in full swing for work.
The FIU has a mandate of receiving and analyzing intelligence and other public and non-public information, detect and prevent suspicious transaction or cash transaction report in line with the AML/CFT reporting obligations, trace and monitor property assets suspected to be related to money laundering and transmit any information derived from analysis to appropriate domestic or foreign law enforcement authorities on a need-to-know basis.
Taking the oath of office last Friday at a brief program held in the Ball Lounge of the Central Bank of Liberia, the two financial experts who bring a wealth of experiences to the Unit that draws its authority from Section 67.3 of an Act established in 2012 were informed about their penalty which is equated to dismissal followed by legal proceedings failure on their part to keep information confidential in line with the scope of their mandate.
Administering the oath of office, Cllr. Benedict Sannor said the agency being autonomous in nature is created to disappoint the networks of criminals and protect the integrity of the Liberian economy from money laundering and terrorist financing for national and international security and economic stability therefore anything on the contrary will be considered a felony of the second degree which must proceed with disciplinary actions.
The Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Central Bank’s Charles Sirleaf lauded the individuals for stepping up to the challenge and also praised the vetting committee for conducting a transparent process though it was long; he said he believes that the two individuals selected are very competent and urge them to perform up to the task emphasizing, “We hope you live up to standard.”
Mr. Cuffy said a lot of work had already begun at the FIU by the management team that was headed by Alexander Duopu in consultation with the Board of Directors and that is a report which propels his leadership to strive for nothing less than to work even harder so that the FIU objectives can be realized.
He also promised to work with GIABA, and the national reporting entities as well as the relevant supervisory authorities to ensure that Liberia remains compliant as it strives to instill a strong regional financial system.
Mr. Cuffy stressed that the FIU will work with the Ministry of Finance during the next budgetary period as it will also work collaboratively with international bodies.
Since its establishment, the FIU has been able to begin acting on its mandate and delivering on its deliverables by holding consultative meetings with reporting entities as well as designated non financial business and professionals.
The FIU foresees significant progress in the coming years as it embarks on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism and is also expected to increase in reporting suspicious transactions as an AML/CFT server has already been completed and installed at the Unit that is live and in full swing for monitoring purposes.