CFATF XLVI Plenary Meeting, Georgetown, Guyana, 15 November

As prepared for delivery.

Remarks by David Lewis 
FATF Executive Secretary

CFATF XLVI Plenary Meeting, 12-16 November 2017

Georgetown, Guyana, 15 November 2017

Honorable Basil Williams,
Honourable Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles,
Attorney’s General,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

All protocol observed. 

Thank you for such a warm welcome here in Guyana, and on behalf of the President of FATF.

We have achieved together robust global standards to protect the financial system and deprive criminals and terrorists of their funds. The FATF Global Network today consists of the FATF and 9 regional bodies (among them, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force – CFATF). This network now includes over 200 jurisdictions that have committed at the highest level to implement these standards and to being assessed by their peers using the FATF methodology. We work closely with a number of key international partners, UN, Egmont Group. 

In spite of our global efforts, the threat from money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing has never been greater. We are now focused on assessing how effective countries are in dealing with these threats. It is not enough to pass laws, you must use them and have the capacity to do so. Implemented effectively, these measures will protect economies, increase competitiveness and attract foreign direct investment, lending a country a reputation as a good and safe place to do business.

Nearly three years have passed since our first assessment under the new methodology. For the FATF and FATF-Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs), this evaluation process has been a tough job and I would like to recognise the contribution made by CFATF to the Global Network. I commend especially your continued commitment and tenacity in pursuing your work and in organising this Plenary meeting, particularly following the massive impact of recent hurricanes in the region.

Mutual evaluations are a challenging and resource intensive task for FSRBs and for the FATF. Evaluations require operational experts from countries to dedicate a lot of time to be assessors; for all countries to closely scrutinise these assessments; and for Secretariats to be properly resourced and to operate as efficiently as possible. In this regard, let me welcome the endorsement by CFATF of the its Strategic Plan for 2018-2022 that emphasises the importance of the 4th round of mutual evaluation process, provides for the recruitment of additional positions in the Secretariat and helps in adjusting the mutual evaluation schedule which will allow the CFATF to complete an additional assessment per year – from 3 to 4. We stand ready to assist you in achieving your new goal in producing additional quality evaluations.

Improving the quality and consistency of mutual evaluations is a process requiring sustained effort by all of us – FATF, CFATF and all FSRBs. I encourage CFATF to continue its own efforts to improve the quality of mutual evaluations. Furthermore, I urge CFATF Members to ensure that procedures for mutual evaluations are followed properly, as sticking closely to such procedures – and the related deadlines – has a direct and substantive impact on the quality of mutual evaluations.
FATF and FSRBs are already entering a new phase with 4th round follow-up reports. Follow-up in the 4th round presents new challenges in that we have to ensure quality and consistency not only within our individual organisations but throughout the Global Network.

In Buenos Aires, the FATF Plenary endorsed changes to the Universal Procedures aimed at ensuring a minimum level of consistency among assessment bodies of the Global Network when they publish Technical compliance re-ratings for follow-up reports. I encourage CFATF to incorporate these changes into its own procedures as soon as practicable.

I also welcome the fact that the CFATF is developing its own process – similar to the FATF International Co-operation Review Group ICRG process - which links in with CFATF’s mutual evaluation follow-up process. This CFATF initiative is especially timely, as it can provide needed advice in terms of how compliance may best be achieved. It will also encourage countries under review to take advantage of the one-year window to rectify deficiencies prior to the start of the FATF ICRG review for those that meet the FATF ICRG criteria. For that reason, it is important that CFATF’s ICRG procedures be consistent with those of the FATF and I encourage CFATF members to engage further with FATF ICRG and to actively contribute to the work of the Americas Joint Group.

FATF’s Objectives for 2017-2018

The Argentine Presidency  will notably put focus on certain elements of FATF’s core work: 

  • Financial Inclusion: The FATF will maintain its focus on financial inclusion. FATF will continue to work with others, including the FSB, to monitor and address the risks from the decline in the number of corresponding banking relationships, as well as the practice of some of the largest global banks to exit or restrict business relationships with whole categories of customers.
  • Enhancing Transparency and Integrity of Financial Flows is of particular interest for CFATF considering deficiencies in the region. The FATF will continue to focus on improving the transparency of legal persons and legal arrangements through the effective implementation of its Standards, in particular by stressing the need for availability of timely, up-to-date and accurate beneficial ownership information.

Presidency initiatives for 2017/2018

Outreach to the Prosecutorial Services and Criminal Justice Systems (PSCJS)

  • This initiative will highlight the intricate structures that are used for legal and illegal activity, and also shed light on the growing nexus between organised crime and terrorism, thus helping to raise awareness with national authorities and the private sector in order to be able to detect criminal activity, terrorism and attempted misuse of the financial system at an earlier stage.
  • Meaningful engagement, collaboration and effective communication with the PSCJS is vital. The Presidency recognises that the legitimacy of global AML/CFT/CPF efforts rests, not only in effective prevention, but in convictions, financial sanctions, freezing, confiscation and asset recovery for the benefit of States and victims. 

The G20 Argentine Presidency – an opportunity for FATF and the Global Network

FATF will continue to ensure that AML/CFT issues are identified and considered in other international discussions on related matters. Despite the challenges all countries face in effectively implementing the FATF Standards and demonstrating and communicating this through peer reviews, our success has never been more recognised by world leaders. 

The outcomes of the G20 meetings are now heavily focussed on supporting the FATF and FSRBs. The G20 Summit in Hamburg again supported efforts to strengthen the Global Network, which we will continue to do in partnership with CFATF and others. The concurrence in 2018 of Argentina’s Presidencies of the G20 and the FATF is an extraordinary opportunity for the FATF and G20 to work together.

I am confident we can meet the increasing expectations of the international community. So while I call on CFATF to maintain its participation in our joint endeavour and hold each other to the same standards, I also assure you that we in the FATF and my team are here to work with and support you.