Address by the FATF President to the GAFILAT Virtual Plenary Meeting

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Address by the FATF President to the GAFILAT Virtual Plenary Meeting

17 August 2020 
As delivered

Today, you will focus on the impact that Covid-19 is having on the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing in your region. Recent global developments and rising numbers of cases in Latin America show that unfortunately the crisis is not yet over, making your discussions very important and timely.

The challenges of Covid-19 mean that governments are primarily focused on managing the health crisis and supporting their economies. This is right and normal. However, there is a risk that AML/CFT policies take a back seat. We should not let this happen! The work you are doing in GAFILAT,

  • like the dedicated webinar on Covid-19 organised by the Dominican Republic Presidency last Friday
  • that you finalized and approved the update of your Regional ML Vulnerabilities Assessment during the pandemic
  • and the Beneficial Ownership paper you will be discussing this week,

all this shows that you are not letting the guard down. This is remarkable and fits to what I hear, namely that GAFILAT belongs to the FSRBs that have best used the ressources during the pandemic to support its membership. On this note, I would also like to acknowledege the effort and work of the GAFILAT Secretariat to support the body’s work under the new and challengefull circumstances.

The FATF is here to help and guide Governments on how to address emerging threats. In the past few months, the FATF mapped out illicit finance risks linked to the pandemic. Criminals are changing behaviour. Online fraud and cybercrime are on the rise. Criminals are also taking advantage of economic stimulus packages. These are unacceptable costs to society.

We must remind our leaders to keep the fight against financial crime very high on the political agenda. The FATF Standards give Governments an arsenal of measures to prevent money laundering, detect and punish criminals. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that national authorities can take effective actions which lead to tanglible results – criminal convictions, and the seizure and confiscation of funds.

I assumed the FATF Presidency this July, and I set as one of my priorities to foster greater coodination and cooperation between the FATF and the Global Network in the coming years. For the first time the Presidency will last two years – which gives FATF more time to achieve the priorities I identified and that I would like to quickly outline:

As our economies become more digitalised, we need to study in more detail how law enforcement agencies, supervisors, and the private sector can benefit from new technologies and how we can make our whole AML system more effective . At the same time, we need to protect from misuse of such technologies – the FATF has already started this by establishing new standards on Virtual Assets.

Criminals are not only exploiting new technologies. Several crimes continue to take place with increasingly devastating effect at the global level. The FATF will explore the money flows underpinning ethnically- and racially-motivated terrorism fueled by far-right ideology. We will also look at migrant smuggling, weapons trafficking and environmental crime – which has a devastating effect around the world, particularly on fragile, unique environments found throughout Latin America. The Latin American region is exposed to these threats in different ways, and it is vital we receive your inputs.  

For the past, I would like to thank a number of your members who provided significant contributions to the recent FATF study on the Illegal WildLife Trade. For the future, I am very proud to thank Costa Rica for volunteering to be a regional champion looking at risks of money-laundering linked to Environmental Crime.

The FATF relies on its regional partners to implement its Standards globally. Under my presidency, the FATF will continue to support your efforts at regional level to strengthen the Global Network and the FATF-Style Regional Bodies.

In particular, I would like to explore how the FATF can help secure high-level support to each FSRB and to domestic AML/CFT authorities. While competent authorities need independence and autonomy, they also need the appropriate tools, resources, and a co-ordinated approach to set objectives and priorities. It is about ensuring that commitments made by governments translate into concrete actions. Often this is just about raising awareness with those in decision-making positons and explaining the benefits of strong AML/CFT systems. As FATF President, I would be willing to help you achieve this. I know that you are currently working on a Strategic Plan for the following years, with the support of GIZ, and from what I hear the intention is to address ways to secure more high-level support. I think this is the right way forward.

You will not be alone in these efforts. FATF members will continue to contribute to your successes. The FATF has recently launched a new E-Learning platform to train government officials on FATF standards. More than 1,200 people have already registered from around the world, and I hope that E-Learning will soon be available in Spanish.

I know I can count on GAFILAT to achieve the objectives of my presidency and more broadly to implement the FATF Standards. The GAFILAT Secretariat leads one of the Ad Hoc Groups in the FATF Strategic Review and has provided many valuable contributions – This piece of work is one of our most important projects that will determine the future of FATF evaluations. I also want to acknowledge Elisa Deanda Madrazo from Mexico, who was elected FATF Vice-President in July and Co-Chair of the GNCG group. The joint FATF/GAFILAT Mutual Evaluations of Argentina and Brazil in a couple of years will be another opportunity to demonstrate collaboration between our organisations.

As soon as the global health situation improves, I hope I will be able to meet you and hear your views in person.

Thank you for your attention, stay healthy and good luck for your meeting.