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Mar 27, 2023

N.P.O. Bill has to be Implemented by May of this Year

Christopher Coye

Minister Coye was also asked for an update on the Non-Profit Organization Bill 2023.  The N.G.O. community had raised concerns about the lack of consultation, but Minister Coye says that discussions began a year ago between the Financial Intelligence Unit and representatives from the N.G.O. community.  The bill is to address the noncompliance of non-profit organizations as it relates to the Money Laundering and Terrorism Prevention Act. For now, the bill will not be brought before the Senate to give time for consultation to take place, but Belize has to implement by May of this year. Minister Coye says that if N.P.O.’s remain non-compliant, it will affect the country’s standing with the Financial Action Task Force.


Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Finance

“What I can explain will bore you to death, but the reality is that there is an existing set of obligations on NPOs that are laid out in the money laundering and terrorism prevention act that are at the same level of banks and financial institutions. So they actually have very onerous obligations on them right now that are not being complied with, in large part not being complied with by many NPOs. The reality is when those amendments or laws were being put in place, they were very reactive and in effect a patch up job and that was being done way back when the third round peer review was going on. At this point in time, what’s important in the peer review coming up is two things, not one. In the past it used to be on technical compliance, now it is on technical compliance and effectiveness in enforcement. So if people are being noncompliant that will reflect very badly on us and the country and we expose ourselves, we jeopardise our rating and expose ourselves to being blacklisted. So the NPO Bill is an effort to establish a more customised mechanism for MLTPA purposes. For NPOs, it actually brings down the obligations; it reduces the level of AML obligations and compliance obligations that NPOs need to adhere to, but at the same time meets the FATF recommendations. So it is actually beneficial for the NPOs. What I understand was a difficulty is that there was a working group established in March of last year in which NPOs were participating in and have participated in for roughly a year. What the issue appears to be is that the bill itself. So these consultations or working group involved NPOs or representatives of NPOs over the past year. What I understand did not occur was that the FIU in those working groups and otherwise never showed the bill when it was finalised. But as far as I understand the bill was being formulated over the past couple months and only was completed a few weeks ago. So yes, tight timeline that we have to meet because we have to have all these technical compliant issues, including the NPO Bill, in place by no later than May. So there is a tight timeline and unfortunately the FIU did not have the time or the opportunity to have a full disclosure on the bill itself. But it was tight for us as cabinet as well. So it is a process that has been truncated and we have to try and get it done before May.”

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