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Feb 14, 2023

Belize’s First National Anti-Money Laundering Committee Conference Opens

Belize’s National Anti-Money Laundering Committee hosted its first-ever Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism, AM.L. C.F.T. conference. The two-day event aims to engage people from the public and private sectors who deal with significant amounts of money, compliance officers, and regulatory and supervisory authorities on the risks identified in Belize’s last Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing risk assessment. News Five’s Marion Ali reports.

 

Marion Ali, Reporting

Belize is on a timed mission to convince its peers that we have taken all the necessary steps to combat money laundering, terrorism, and its financing. Today the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee held its Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism, A.M.L.C.F.T. conference. Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Chris Coye, told us about the strides Belize has made to receive favorable peer review assessment findings that begin later this year.

 

Chris Coye

Chris Coye, Minister of State, Finance

“All this effort in terms of this conference, the establishment of the Institute of Banking and Finance last night by the University of Belize, and all the legislative efforts that we are making combined with the participation and involvement of, of, um, various enforcement departments, um, are really tied into our efforts to, to, to a favorable consideration in terms of the fourth round mutual evaluation peer review, upcoming in December of this year.”

 

The peer review will require Belize to demonstrate compliance in two specific areas. Belize is taking the necessary steps to meet those requirements to keep up with international standards.

 

Chris Coye

“One is technical compliance. And technical compliance means our laws. Okay. Basically, we have to have, um, legislation in place that meets with international standards, specifically the Financial Action Task Force standard. Um, they have a list of forty recommendations that they’ve made, and country by the country, they go and do peer reviews and look at whether their laws meet those standards. And if they don’t meet the standards, then you run the risk of being blacklisted. And if you get blacklisted, then you have problems with your, um, international transactions, including correspondent banking relation relationships.”

 

The requirements apply to every member of the peer group of countries. Belize, by virtue of its geographical location, falls into a vulnerable zone, as highlighted by the U.S. Ambassador to Belize, Michelle Kwan.

 

Michelle Kwan

Michelle Kwan ,U.S. Ambassador to Belize

“This event invites the sharing of best practices that will help keep Belize and the regions safer by ensuring that money does not fall in the wrong. Belize is a prime tourist destination, as we all know, regularly making the best places to travel list globally. But Belize is prime location, and the structure of its financial sector also, regrettably, makes Belize an equally desirable destination for money laundering and illicit finance. Belize. Its anti-money laundering compliance efforts, therefore, require a dedicated and rigorous approach to respond to these challenges.”

 

In tandem with meeting the requirements, last week, the House of Representatives tabled the Money Laundering and Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, which along with the Financial Services Commission Act, will give teeth to our legislation in tackling money-laundering activities and enhance the standards and the regulatory powers of the Commission. Along with these, the Extradition Bill was also tabled in the House. Its modernization will help us to meet international standards. In the next few months, Coye says there will be a slew of other legislation, including the Civil Assets, Forfeiture, and the Unexplained Wealth Orders Bills. These bills will also need to be passed into law before December, when our efforts will be reviewed. To help keep those in the financing sector in tune with how to detect money-laundering and terrorism financing activities, the University of Belize’s newly established Department of Banking and Finance as its President, Dr. Vincent Palacio, shared more on this collaboration.

 

Vincent Palacio

Dr. Vincent Palacio, President, University of Belize

“There are several courses that are actually required by persons working in the various sectors. In credit unions, the banks, and even the pawn shops, there are certain certification courses that the workers and the employees need to take. And the institute, the U.B Institute will provide these courses for them. As a matter of fact, we’re building the training calendar as we speak, and there are eight different certification courses that we are ready to offer. And they look at various aspects of financial crime, anti-money laundering, financing of terrorism, and several aspects along those lines.”

 

The program offers convenience for those who need to enroll since it eliminates Belizean students from traveling abroad and being away from their families. Marion Ali for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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