The 21st MENAFATF plenary meeting was held in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman from 28 to 30 April 2015 and was chaired by H.E Mr. Marwan Turki Al Said, General Director of Economic Affairs - The Supreme Council of Planning and Head of Technical Committee for Combating Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, in the presence of MENAFATF Vice President, H.E Sheikh Fahad Bin Faisal Al-Thani, Deputy Governor of Qatar Central Bank and President of NAMLC (National Anti Money Laundering Committee) and Mr. Adel Al Qulish, MENAFATF Executive Secretary.
The meeting was attended by AML/CFT experts representing the following member countries (Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco) and the following observers as well as regional and international organizations (Palestine, Republic of Somalia, Republic of France, United Kingdom, United States of America, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Financial Action Task Force, United Nations, Arab Monetary Fund and Eurasian Group on combating ML and TF). The MENAFATF held the MEWG and TATWG meetings, the 11th FIUs forum as well as the NRA Committee meeting in the 2 days preceding the plenary meeting.
H.E. Sheikh AbdulMalik bin Abdullah Al Khalili, Minister of Justice in Oman presided as the guest of honor at the opening ceremony. The inauguration ceremony was attended by dignitaries and high profile officials from the Sultanate of Oman, member countries and observers.
The ceremony started with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran followed by the address of the AML/CFT national committee in Oman delivered by H.E. Sheikh Dr. Abdul Malik bin Abdullah Al Hanai, Advisor to the Ministry of Finance, member of the national AML/CFT committee who welcomed the attendees and praised MENAFATF role in reinforcing the AML/CFT in the MENA region, and presented the efforts made by Oman in this area; he wished all the attendees a wonderful stay in Oman and the best of luck in the plenary meeting.
The keynote address was followed by the speech of H.E. MENAFATF President, who welcomed the attendees and participants and highlighted the role of the Group, the challenges it will face in the future and called all members to unite with a view to overcome these challenges and protect the region from the risks that threaten the security and stability of the societies as well as the financial and economic systems.
The ceremony was then concluded with the MENAFATF Executive Secretary speech who thanked the Sultanate of Oman for hosting the plenary meeting, for the generous and the great organization and praised the achievements of Oman and the large progress it has made in fighting money laundering and terrorism financing; He pointed out the importance of regional and international cooperation in order to reinforce AML/CFT regimes of members and corroborated the important role of the members and observers in exchanging the expertise with member countries.
During the 3 days event, the plenary discussed a series of important topics and concerns in the area of AML/CFT and issued the related decisions
The plenary meeting reviewed and approved the 10th annual report, Closing Account and External Auditor Report for the year 2014; Then, it has received an update on the latest developments in the area of fighting money laundering and terrorism financing and the international activities in this regard, and followed up on the FATF activities and news, particularly FATF statement on terrorism financing and the procedures of the review of international cooperation as well as the measures that will be taken in the coming period and its focus on the drivers and the scope of de-risking principle.
Also, the meeting reviewed the events held by the international and regional organizations and FSRBs and the cooperation existing with the MENAFATF. The plenary meeting confirmed the cooperation proposal with the Arab Monetary Fund and approved on submitting a working paper on the preparations for the 2nd round of evaluations and the control developments in fighting money laundering and terrorism financing and on holding a related workshop in the 2nd half of the current year.
The plenary meeting approved as well the revised procedures on the Voluntary Tax Compliance (VTC) program of members and heard updates on the contribution in full discharge for assets and cash held abroad executed by the Kingdom of Morocco; the meeting concluded that no follow up should be conducted in this regard.
The plenary reviewed the large progress made by the State of Kuwait in complying with the international AML/CFT standards and praised its achievements in reinforcing its AML/CFT regime based on the recommended action plan established in the mutual evaluation report. The plenary meeting adopted the follow up report and approved to be moved from regular follow up to biennial update. The report will be soon published on the website.
Within the framework of the follow up for the mutual evaluation processes, the plenary meeting adopted 7 follow-up reports for the following countries: Algeria, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Oman, Lebanon and Mauritania. The reports reflected the progress made by those countries in improving their AML/CFT regimes in light of the recommended action plan established in the mutual evaluation reports adopted earlier.
The plenary meeting heard the first update report of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan covering the recent developments and measures taken to improve the AML/CFT regime.
The Plenary adopted the Mutual Evaluation Working Group (MEWG) and the Technical Assistance and Typologies Working Group (TATWG) Chair reports; Both reports included the recommendations as developed and decided in the WG meetings held on Monday 27 April 2015 on the margin of the plenary meeting. The most important recommendations set out in the 2 reports are briefed as follows:
1- Adopting the mutual evaluation timeline of year 2016.
2- Adopting the follow up process timeline.
3- Adopting the proposal of a study on the typologies project on "Money Laundering and Corruption".
4- Adopting the procedures on coordinating the provision of technical assistance.
The plenary approved the FIU Chair Report on the issues discussed in the 11th FIUs forum which was held on Sunday 26 April 2015; 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 on “Promoting the autonomy of FIUs”.
The plenary meeting concluded with the observers' comments who praised MENAFATF efforts and endeavors to protect the MENA region from ML/TF risks and showed their readiness to cooperate in this regard.
The 22nd plenary meeting will be held in November 2015.