The Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task force held its 18th plenary meeting in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain from 26 to 28 November 2013. The meeting was chaired by the Republic of Sudan, represented by H.E. Mr. Isameddine Abdul Gadir Al Zain, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice and President of the Administrative Committee for combating ML/TF crimes in Sudan.
A large number of AML/CFT experts participated in the Plenary meeting, representing MENAFATF member countries (Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania and Yemen), in addition to observer countries and organizations (Palestine, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Financial Action Task Force, Arab Monetary Fund, Eurasian Group, the United Nations and Asia Pacific Group).
A set of important topics related to a series of issues on MENAFATF work and activities were discussed during the sessions of the plenary meeting. Below are the most important decisions issued by the meeting:
1) National Risk Assessment:
The plenary meeting discussed “National Risks Assessment” through presentations made by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Financial Action Task Force; the discussions explored the concept, international requirements, objectives, available methods and mechanisms of assessment. The meeting recommended the formation of a regional committee to assist the countries in the region to implement mechanisms for national risks assessments.
2) Work Plan for year 2014:
The plenary meeting adopted the work plan for year 2014; the plan included the goals to be achieved throughout the year, and which, include, among others, preparing for the 2nd round of mutual evaluations to assess MENA countries’ compliance with the international standards in this area.
3) Adopting MOU amendments:
The plenary meeting adopted the amendments proposed to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the governments of the member states in the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force to be in line with the international AML/CFT developments and with the new FATF recommendations and standards on money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation.
4) Kingdom of Morocco moves from regular follow up process to the biennial update:
The plenary noted the significant progress made by the Kingdom of Morocco and praised the achievements completed to enhance its AML/CFT regime based on the plan established in the mutual evaluation report. The plenary meeting adopted the 8th follow up report for Morocco and approved to be moved from regular follow up to biennial update; the report will be published on MENAFATF website.
5) Follow up reports:
Within the framework of the follow up for the mutual evaluation processes, the 18th plenary meeting adopted 8 follow-up reports for the following countries: Arab Republic of Syria, Republic of Iraq, People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Republic of Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Republic of Yemen and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The reports revealed the progress made by those countries in developing their AML/CFT regimes in light of the plan established for that purpose in their adopted mutual evaluation reports.
6) Working Groups:
The Plenary adopted the Mutual Evaluation Working Group (MEWG) Chair report, which included recommendations the MEWG has reached in its meeting held on Monday 25 November 2013 on the margin of the 18th Plenary meeting. The most important issues are the following:
- Adoption of Preparation Program for the 2nd round of mutual evaluations.
- Adoption of Timeline of the follow up process.
Further, the Plenary adopted the Technical Assistance and Typologies Working Group (TATWG) Chair report, which included the most important recommendations agreed on during the TATWG meeting held on Monday 25 November 2013 on the margin of the 18th Plenary; the most important issues are the following:
- Adoption of typologies project on: “Proceeds of forgery & counterfeiting of instruments and documentary Letters of Credits and their relation with ML/TF”.
- Adoption of The amended MENAFATF Training Plan for the years 2012 – 2014.
- Adoption of the FIUs Training Plan.
- Update about progress of the FATF/MENAFATF joint project on “Money Laundering Through Physical Transfer of Cash”.
7) 8th MENAFATF Financial Intelligence Units Forum:
The 8th MENAFATF FIUs forum was held on Sunday 24 November 2013 on the margin of the 18th plenary meeting; the most important issues are summarized below:
- Encourage and follow-up the applications of FIUs to join the Egmont Group.
- Exchange of expertise through presentations on Best Practices made by some FIUs on “FIU role in establishing national risk assessments” and “FIUs role in combating corruption and assets recovery”.
- Mechanisms of building and promoting FIU’s capacities.
- FIU relation with other Working Groups within the MENAFATF.
8) Next Presidency and Next Plenary Meeting:
The Republic of Iraq will preside the MENAFATF in the year of 2014. The 19th MENAFATF plenary meeting will be held in April/May 2014.