FATF President's remarks at the Egmont Working Group and Heads of Financial Intelligence Units (FIU) meeting

As delivered

Egmont Working Group and Heads of FIU Meeting
Buenos Aires, 12-15 March 2018

14 March 

Distinguished President of the Egmont Group Mrs. Hennie VERBEEK-KUSTERS and Egmont authorities and Secretariat, 
Distinguished Heads and representatives of Egmont Financial Intelligence Units, 
Distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Finance and other high governmental authorities,
Distinguished congressmen and Judiciary authorities.
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.

As the Secretary of Justice of the Republic of Argentina, I welcome all of you who are visiting us from abroad to the City of Buenos Aires. It is a great honour for Argentina to have such important guests tonight and also to host this meeting of the Egmont Group for the first time in our country.

Let me begin these remarks by saying that we in Argentina are very happy and honoured that the international community has entrusted us with key positions and responsibilities leading key international fora and bodies such as the G20 and the FATF, and acting as host of the recent World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference. But I am particularly pleased that we are able to host this Egmont meeting here in Buenos Aires and that we currently chair the Forum of Heads of FATF Financial Intelligence Units, which I propose to continue in my tenure as FATF President under the leadership of Mariano Federici, who has been doing a great job engaging FATF Heads of FIUs in relevant, profound and sometimes difficult discussions, such as how to enhance the effectiveness of STR reporting, the benefits of Public-Private partnerships, and on FIU independence, autonomy and resourcing.

In that regard, I want to thank the Egmont Chair because I know for a fact how much she is doing to have a rich and intelligent co-operation with the FATF. I think that we are absolutely on the right track and I do hope that this will continue to grow in the future.

Let me now come back to my first point, because I think that these major responsibilities that we in Argentina are currently undertaking have not occurred by chance. Argentina, under President Macri, is not only highly and clearly committed to a global agenda of sustainable economic growth, transparency and the fight against organised crime and money laundering, and terrorism and its financiers. This was clearly highlighted recently in his opening remarks at the FATF Plenary, also held for the first time in Argentina, and in the direction that he is providing to the discussions in the G20 fora.

But, Argentina also has the opportunity and a responsibility to enhance its position as a regional frontrunner and a trusted partner in the anti-money laundering (AML) / countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) and countering the financing of proliferation (CPF) agenda. Mariano Federici and Argentina’s FIU, as well as Argentina’s Delegation to the FATF and its Head Ambassador Curia, and the National Coordinator on AML/CFT, Nicolas Negri, deserve credit for this.

Let me now come back to my main role here, as President of the FATF and use this opportunity to address you all in relation to some of our common goals. I want to thank again the President of Argentina’s FIU and Vice-Chair of the Egmont Committee, Mariano Federici, for the invitation.

I think that countering terrorist financing should remain as one of our highest priorities. Both organisations should keep monitoring and deepening their understanding of the risks that terrorism poses to our security and liberty.

Egmont is a key partner in the FATF’s new Operational Plan agreed a few weeks ago, and Egmont’s work in relation to prevention, information sharing and collaboration with law enforcement and other authorities is vital to help us in FATF’s CFT work – such as the project to identify TF disruption strategies.

Domestic co-ordination, international co-operation and information sharing among agencies and with the private sector continues to pose challenges to both organisations, as we seek to take effective action against money laundering and terrorist financing. FATF is confident that the amendments of its Recommendation 2 and the update of its guidance will contribute to strengthening the close collaboration we have with key partners in this task. I am very supportive of Egmont action in this regard.

Improving transparency and the availability of beneficial ownership information is also a high priority for FATF and Egmont, and one of the main points where the FATF will be contributing to the G20 agenda.

As you know, the FATF and the Egmont Group are carrying out a joint project on the risk of abuse of corporate vehicles, legal arrangements and professional intermediaries to help to ensure that global standards and policies continue to reflect the evolving risks.

Supporting financial inclusion, avoiding bank de-risking, mainly on correspondent banking and remittances is also a challenge that affects mostly developing countries.

FATF has updated its relevant guidance on customer due diligence measures and alternative forms of digital identity verification, money value transfer services and correspondent banking, clarifying a risk based approach on regulations and supervisory policies.

Engagement with FinTech and RegTech Industries is another priority of the FATF under the Argentine Presidency, in the dual understanding of its natural risks but also the opportunities to streamline customer due diligence processes, reduce compliance costs and improve financial inclusion.

During its Plenary in February 2018, the FATF reviewed the risks related to virtual currencies and the measures countries are taking to mitigate these risks, concluding that the current patchwork regulatory framework across different countries can be exploited by criminals and that the FATF should address the regulatory and policy issues as a matter of priority. This is also a major concern of the Argentine Presidency of the G20.

Finally, one of the most welcomed actions by G20 and FATF Delegations was the global outreach programme to prosecutorial services and criminal justice systems initiated under the Argentine President at the FATF.

This initiative aims to learn from their experiences, challenges and best practices when investigating and prosecuting money laundering and terrorist financing, and in confiscating proceeds of crime.

This close engagement with the Judiciary and the work done by the Heads of FATF FIUs are fundamental to the effectiveness of our AML/CFT Systems. I will work in the remaining months as President of the FATF to pursue the continuity of this approach with the incoming FATF leadership.

As you know, we face enormous challenges, but it is also very satisfying to have the privilege to lead this fight against the major threats faced by our societies. It provides an opportunity and responsibility to renew our commitment to act appropriately towards our core objectives.

I trust that this will be a very productive week with very important outcomes for the AML/CFT agenda and I congratulate you in advance for all your efforts and hard work

Thank you all for your attention, and I wish you a fruitful and productive meeting, while still having enough time to enjoy Buenos Aires and to meet our people.