3 December 2020
Acting President of GAFILAT, Executive Secretary, Heads of delegations, Members and observers, Dear colleagues
It is a privilege for me to address you today. The pandemic has obliged us to meet again virtually for the 42nd plenary. This is not the ideal way to discuss and make decisions. However, I am glad to see that – like the FATF – GAFILAT continues to use virtual tools to advance its work.
This is the second time that I am addressing you this year and the main reason for this is that 2020 is a very special time for GAFILAT who is turning 20 this year! I would have really liked to be meeting with you in the Dominican Republic as it was previously planned. I would have enjoyed being there in-person to follow the intense technical discussions on improving our responses to the serious threats that the region faces. And, of course, it would have been another occasion to share a moment of joy and celebrate together this 20th anniversary.
I hope that we will be able to meet in person soon and to continue our engagement under more normal circumstances. However, we do need to highlight the great efforts that the FATF Global Network is doing to continue conducting its core work. We should also recognise the resilience that AML/CFT systems demonstrated in the face of unprecedented challenges.
Let me now congratulate Brazil, as a joint FATF/GAFILAT member, for taking the Presidency of GAFILAT for this Plenary. I understand that you will act as President until the rest of the year, before starting the formal tenure at the beginning of 2021. FATF wishes you success. Please count on us to continue supporting GAFILAT work.
I do believe that the present times and the challenges we are facing globally require that we keep closer to each other than ever. This will demonstrate that we work together and that we are able to be effective in joining our efforts against financial crimes.
The FATF has been monitoring the evolving risk situation. Reports show that criminals have been taking advantage of the pandemic to exploit people at their most vulnerable. Fake medical equipment, fraudulent activity, cybercrime - even ransomware attacks on hospitals while doctors are trying to save lives. We are also seeing huge increases in fraud against governments. Money earmarked to help our communities is instead being stolen by criminals and corrupt officials.
I know that GAFILAT has been active in monitoring the emerging risks and has been informing the FATF on its findings. It also played a key role to strengthen the regional response. I commend you for these initiatives and encourage you to keep the efficient work on this. This is an invaluable asset for the Global Network.
Now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant to the threat of illicit finance. In a global financial system, we should acknowledge that we are part of a larger community – we share the benefits of integrated financial markets, but we also need to apply the same rules to protect them from criminal infiltration. This is why the FATF Standards and the mutual assessments done by the FATF and by our FSRBs including GAFILAT are so vital.
The FATF Global Network is the cornerstone of our international fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing.
The joint and coordinated work of the Global Network promotes an unprecedented and powerful synergy for the fight against these serious threats to global security, and to the integrity of the international financial system.
In the case of GAFILAT, since its inception as GAFISUD in December 2000, it has shown a determined commitment to the effective implementation of FATF Standards. GAFILAT has been developing a robust program of mutual evaluations that has been key in the consolidation and improvement of the national systems in the region to prevent, detect and repress money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing. In addition, through training programs and operational projects, GAFILAT has been making an important contribution to strengthen and enhance the regional cooperation and coordination.
As I said in the letter that I sent to you some months ago, thanks to the work of GAFILAT through these 20 years, Latin American jurisdictions are better equipped to combat financial crime. This effort contributes to protecting the integrity of the global economic-financial system, ensures greater transparency, and contributes to international security.
In addition, I want to highlight the capacity of GAFILAT to adapt to the challenges that the global COVID- 19 crisis created. I want to congratulate you for the conduct of the face-to-face meeting of Chile in a virtual mode and the planed discussion of this Mutual Evaluation Report next March, in an ad hoc plenary meeting. Today you will be discussing in a virtual mode the follow up reports of Cuba and Nicaragua, among other very important topics.
These adjustments really demonstrate GAFILAT and its membership’s commitment. I want to commend you for these great achievements. Count with the support of the FATF to continue advancing on this great work and to continue demonstrating the resilience of your mutual evaluations program.
This gets me to the final points I wanted to make today. I need to stress that we are not winning the battle yet. Criminals are also demonstrating a capacity to adapt, to innovate and to be more effective in laundering money and financing acts of terror and proliferation. You know this because you are the ones facing criminal actions on a daily basis and you understand the scale of the threat that Latin America faces.
Therefore, it is paramount; it is of the highest importance, that we keep pushing our governments to invest in our efforts and to further increase the national and regional commitment to fighting financial crime. Such support will enable us to strengthen our global response and consistently implement the FATF Recommendations. I am convinced that this is the only way to give criminals a serious fight.
Finally, I would like to congratulate you for discussing a strategic plan for 2020-2025. This is based on a very serious and comprehensive exercise conducted throughout the year. This gives GAFILAT an amazing opportunity to reinvigorate its own efforts. We thank you for considering our input and we will continue supporting your work to achieve the important objectives that you are setting. The FATF wants to help you to better streamline your work and resources and to increase your capacity to measure the level of success of the actions you take forward.
FATF sees this work as a milestone in the path to further achieving results in the fight against the financial crime threats in the region. Be assured that we will continue working together to support GAFILAT on this. Count on me as the FATF President and on the broader FATF membership.
Congratulations again for the 20th anniversary and I wish you the best for this Plenary meeting.