Financial Intelligence Unit Endorses Globally Accepted Practice to Strengthen Liberia’s Financial System – FrontPageAfrica

Monrovia– The Director General of Liberia’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Edwin W. Harris, has pledged to fully endorse the globally recognized practice for banks and other institutions operating in Liberia to professionally implement a uniform procedure “Know Your Customer (KYC)”. void of compromise to help strengthen Liberia’s financial system against waste and abuse.

Speaking at the formal induction ceremony for the acting leadership of the Liberia Compliance Officers Forum (COF) on Thursday, Mr Harris said that only one recognized financial or banking procedure for onboarding clients has the propensity to put Liberia on a par with other countries. in the West African region and the world at large who maintain compliance and protect the financial system of their respective countries.

According to the FIU boss, if the sound and professional implementation of this proposed banking procedure which supports background checks and the source of funding of potential clients is properly verified, Liberia will enjoy massive donor support and sustainable investments that could reorganize the country’s stressful situation. economy that needs more external and internal support.

He mentioned that Liberia’s economic story can be changed if all actors in the private and public sectors are supportive and adhere to the uniform “Know Your Customer Procedure” proposition that financial entities in other countries run without fear and whose they benefit.

The Managing Director of the FIU said that this KYC proposal needs to be approved at the national level and calls on all players in the banking, finance, digital banking, mobile money and other sectors to take ownership of the country for the benefit of the Liberian society and its people.

Mr. Harris, who is also the current President of the FIU Forum for West Africa or the ECOWAS region, also warned banks, telecom providers, insurers and money changers , among other things, to ensure that their compliance officers acquire continuous training to improve their skills in carrying out their duties.

According to him, employers across all sectors in Liberia also need to help their compliance officers compete with their colleagues in West Africa and beyond by choosing to take or pass professional exams to add more integrity. , professionalism, prestige and responsibility to their compliance career. .

“Educating forum members about current and emerging money laundering and other illicit financial practices is very essential and timely,” Mr. Harris said.

He said that the establishment of the Liberia Compliance Officers Forum information dissemination regarding the recent changes to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards and other anti-corruption regulations money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT) are key issues that need to be prioritised. by the new interim leadership of COF-Liberia.

Also speaking at the induction ceremony, Mr. George Mensah-Asante, President of the Liberia Bankers Association said that the establishment of the compliance forum is the first of its kind in Liberia and his organization is an important step in promoting the culture of compliance. in Liberia.

“We will want to see KYC processes be centralized and a client who is rejected by an institution for impropriety or fraudulent practices through legal means also receives the same treatment as other institutions in the same situation and should not be accommodated for curb the proliferation of these serious crimes,” he suggested.

According to him, the establishment of the forum could bring competitiveness and added value for the compliance function in all sectors in Liberia.
“I would like to recall the many strides made by the FIU in strengthening the compliance regime in the Liberian economy and protecting the country’s financial system from the abuse of financial crimes, combating transactional money laundering and protecting the integrity of the Liberian economy,” he noted.

He expressed his optimism that the forum could serve as a platform for sharing ideas, experiences and best practices among compliance professionals in all sectors of the Liberian economy.

“Make sure everyone will comply with regulations and keep abreast of emerging trends so that they can be more robust in carrying out their various duties and responsibilities.

The President of the Liberian Bankers Association asserted that the issue of anti-money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation are key themes that have been discussed over the years, and stakeholders in the financial space have been challenged to put in place measures to mitigate these high levels. practical levels of corruption and financial crime.

“As we all prepare for the next mutual evaluation, we would like to congratulate the FIU on the launch of the national strategy and action plan which provides the roadmap leading to the mutual evaluation in September 2022, but we wish also that we all work hard to get a good rating when assessors come to rate our institutions,” noted the CEO of Eco Bank-Liberia.

For his part, Mr. Kojo G. Weeks, Acting President of the Liberia Compliance Officers Forum, said that his fellow professionals who are members of the forum serve as strategic gatekeepers when it comes to preventing, minimizing and supporting direct compliance with the KYC procedure that we talk about so much. , which has been highly recommended by major financial players for application in Liberia.

According to him, KYC has the ability to protect and prevent corruptible financial practices.

He wants officials from all banks, financial service providers and insurance operators, among other sectors, to see compliance as a national obligation that is in the best interests of Liberian society and its people.

“Let me salute the CRF for their tremendous support for this launch program today and for making the forum active after six years of inactivity,” he noted.

Meanwhile, those elected to run the affairs of the forum are Kojo G. Weeks – President, International Bank (IB) Staff, Augustine Josiah – Vice President, Comfort Seville – Corporate Secretary, Pierre – Financial Secretary and Onike Bedell treasurer.

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Don F. Davis