Govt fully committed to anti-money laundering
By Ishara Gamage
Sri Lanka has the utmost political commitment to the fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and all sorts of other crimes, government and Central Bank officials said yesterday.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the 20th Annual Meeting of the Asia/Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering in Colombo, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that the government's objective is to ensure Sri Lankan institutions, financial systems, economies as well day-to-day lives are free from the threats posed by money launderers and terrorists.
"We have emerged from a period where corruption was rife," he said.
He also said that as the Finance Minister who is responsible for the country's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), he is committed to......improving the anti-money laundering and terrorism financing combatting framework.
The APG's objectives are set out by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which include the ensuring of effective implementation and enforcement of internationally accepted anti-money laundering and terrorism financing standards.
Speaking to Ceylon FT, FATF Executive Secretary, David Lewis said that global money laundering transactions are estimated at 2 to 5% of global GDP.
"We are happy with the progress of Sri Lanka's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing process," he said.
However, according to the FATF's, Sri Lanka Mutual Evaluation Report last year (2015), there were several bottlenecks in the country's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing process
The FIU-Sri Lanka that was established in 2007 has evolved with the challenges and necessities of the time.
The FIU receives information on any suspicious transaction relating to ML and TF from all banks, finance companies, insurance companies and stock brokers.
Recently this requirement was imposed on non-financial businesses and professions as well.
Sri Lanka has also signed 33 MOUs with foreign FIUs to share information for intelligence purposes.
Speaking at the event the Co-Chair of APG on Money Laundering from the host country and the FIU-Sri Lanka Head Dr. H. Amarathunga said that Sri Lanka can be proud of being among the first 13 countries which took the initial steps to set up the APG in 1997.
Dr. Amarathunga said that Sri Lanka is always willing to play a pivotal role in combating ML and TF with the support of other international partners.
"I would like to reiterate to the distinguished gathering here today that ML and TF can be prevented only through the collective effort of our local and international stakeholders and partners," he said.
The APG Annual Meeting is one of the flagship events of the APG Calendar. There were approximately 400 delegates from 41 member countries and 25 observers from approximately 14 international organizations attending this Sri Lankan event.
The APG is an autonomous and collaborative international organization founded in 1997 in Bangkok, Thailand consisting of 41 members and a number of international and regional observers.
Some of the key international organizations who participate in, and support, the efforts of the APG in the region include the FATF, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, OECD, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Asian Development Bank and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
APG members and observers are committed to the effective implementation and enforcement of internationally accepted standards against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, in particular the Forty Recommendations of the FATF.
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