The 29th Plenary Meeting of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism was closed, on Thursday, 25 April 2019. It was held in Amman, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, for 3 days, starting 23 April 2019, under the presidency of the State of Libya represented by HE Dr. Subhi Musbah Zeed, the director of the Libyan Financial Intelligence Unit and the MENAFATF President and the Secretariat of HE Dr. Alwaleed Bin Khalid Alsheikh, the MENAFATF Executive Secretary.
The Plenary Meeting was attended by AML/CFT experts from twenty Arab member countries (the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Republic of Tunisia, the Republic of Djibouti, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Sudan, the Arab Republic of Syria, the Federal Republic of Somalia, the Republic of Iraq, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Palestine, the State of Qatar, the State of Kuwait, the Lebanese Republic, the State of Libya, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and the Republic of Yemen). The Plenary Meeting was also attended by representatives of several observer countries and authorities at the MENAFATF (the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Kingdom of Spain, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of France, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Secretariat General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the United Nations (UN), and Australia).
The Plenary Meeting addressed many important topics related to the MENAFATF work and different activities, and took several relevant decisions. The most important of which are as follows:
Promoting the MENAFATF efforts in the CFT field
The Plenary Meeting addressed the efforts exerted by the MENAFATF in the CFT field, by following up on the activities of the 6th Operational Forum on Terrorist Financing (OFTF) which was held on the margins of the 29th Plenary Meeting on 20 April 2019 and which also addressed an update of the latest information relating to the risks of terrorism and its financing in the region, as well as the latest developments relating to TF risks, methods and trends through the misuse of the money transfer sector in TF operations, based on the practical experience of the participating experts. The topics discussed also included the efforts made by countries in laying down the national strategies with a view to limiting the TF risks and the role of the Financial Information Processing Unit in coordinating the endeavors of domestic authorities in order to prepare the national CFT strategy. In order to implement the operational CFT plan, the OFTF recommended that the Secretariat communicates with the countries about the possibility to create a specialized team that handles TF prosecution and litigation.
Relationship with the FATF, the international and regional organizations and counterparts
The Plenary Meeting addressed some topics related to the relation of the MENAFATF with the FATF, and followed up on the results and developments of the latest CFT projects related to the FATF report on financing Daesh, Al-Qaeda and their affiliated groups, the TF disruption strategies and the guidance on TF risk assessments.
The IMF representative reviewed the main characteristics of Immediate Outcome 1 which is related to the understanding of the ML/TF risks and the necessary measures which should be taken to mitigate them.
In addition, the UN representative reviewed the major points included in the UNSCR No.2462 issued in March 2019 on combating terrorist financing, which is in consistency with the international standards on terrorist financing, in particular the International Recommendation 5. The decision emphasized the necessary commitment to eradicate and prohibit the support and financing of terrorist acts, and called countries to sign the international agreements and protocols on combating terrorism.
The 2nd round of mutual evaluations of the MENAFATF member countries for their compliance with the international standards on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation
In the context of the second round of the evaluations of the member countries compliance with the (revised) international standards on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation, according to the amended Assessment Methodology issued by the FATF, the Plenary Meeting adopted the proposal to amend the paper on the procedures, based on the observations raised during the MEWG meeting, provided that it will be disseminated to member countries for their observations and for its adoption at the 30th MENAFATF Plenary Meeting which will be held in November 2019. The Republic of Djibouti made a detailed presentation on the AML/CFT system applied in the Republic, and also by the various stakeholders and the measures taken to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
As to the adoption of the MER for Morocco, the Plenary Meeting decided, based on the MENAFAFT Procedures, to adopt the said MER and to place Morocco under the enhanced follow-up, provided that it will submit the first Enhanced Follow-Up Report to the 31st MENAFATF Plenary Meeting in April 2020. It also decided to take into consideration the observations and comments made at the MEWG meeting and the Plenary, and to follow the post-Plenary procedures according to the MENAFATF Procedures.
As to the Mutual Evaluation Report for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Plenary Meeting decided, according to the MENAFATF Procedures, to defer the decision regarding the said Report until the 30th MENAFATF Plenary Meeting in November 2019 and to mandate all the MEWG members to pursue their work with the MENAFATF Secretariat and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in order to include the necessary amendments and to make the final draft of the report, taking into consideration the observations made during the MEWG meeting.
The Plenary Meeting adopted the 1st Follow-Up Report for the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (which includes a request for technical compliance re-ratings) within the 2nd round of the mutual evaluation, taking into consideration the observations raised by the MEWG and the Plenary Meeting. The report highlights the progress achieved by Mauritania in enhancing its national AML/CFT system. The Plenary also decided to approve upon the publication of the report after completing the quality and consistency procedures and to keep Mauritania under the enhanced follow-up process, provided that it will submit its 2nd report within the enhanced follow-up process to the 31st MENAFATF Plenary Meeting in April 2020.
Follow-ups subsequent to evaluations of member countries for their compliance with the international AML/CFT standards, within the 1st round of evaluations
In the context of follow-ups subsequent to mutual evaluations within the 1st round of the mutual evaluation, the Plenary Meeting reviewed the Follow-Up Reports of some member countries which comprised the progress they achieved in their compliance with the international AML/CFT standards. The Plenary praised the achievements made by the countries in promoting their relevant systems, based on the plans set out in their respective Mutual Evaluation Reports.
On this note, the Plenary Meeting examined the 2nd Update Reports for the Sultanate of Oman and the Lebanese Republic, and the 2nd Update Report for the State of Kuwait, concerning the latest developments and which comprised the latest actions the three countries have taken to enhance their AML/CFT systems. The Plenary Meeting decided to adopt the 1st Update Report for the Sultanate of Oman and the Lebanese Republic and that they shall cease the submission of update reports within the 1st round, given that the 2nd round of the mutual evaluation for both countries will start soon. As to the report of the State of Kuwait, the Plenary Meeting decided to adopt the 2nd Update Report for the State of Kuwait, provided that it will submit the 3rd Update Report to the Plenary Meeting in April 2021.
As to the Voluntary Tax Compliance Program in The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Plenary Meeting decided to adopt the Report, provided that Jordan will submit an update of what was accomplished to the next Plenary Meeting.
In the context of typologies, the Plenary adopted the TATWG recommendation to amend the mandates of the working group, as set out in the TATWG co-chairs. It also adopted the third version of the periodical (biennial) typologies report for 2018 which highlights the techniques and tools used to launder the proceeds of crime and to finance terrorism at the regional level. The report also provides an array of examples, case studies and a list of suspicion evidence and indicators and examines how the various sectors are being misused in laundering the proceeds of crime and in financing terrorism. The Plenary Meeting called member countries to effectively participate and chair the side sessions held during the Typologies and Capacity Building Workshop which is scheduled during the third half, in participation with the FRSBs in Africa, in Cairo, the Arab Republic of Egypt, from 30 July to 2 August 2019.
The Plenary Meeting adopted the MENAFATF revised training plan for the years 2017-2019, provided that the Presidency Priorities for the year 2019 shall be taken into consideration.
MENAFATF meetings held on the margins of the Plenary Meeting
On the margins of the Plenary Meeting, the Advisory Committee held its meeting on Friday, 19 April 2019, and the OFTF and the FIUF held their meetings on Saturday, 20 April 2019. The MEWG meeting was held during the period from 20 to 22 April 2019, while the National Risk Assessment Committee (NRAC) meeting was held on Sunday, 21 April 2019 and the Technical Assistance and Typologies Working Group (TATWG) meeting on Monday, 22 April 2019. The Plenary Meeting adopted the working groups and committees co-chairs reports and approved upon their recommendations.
The Plenary examined and adopted the annual report, the final account, the external auditor report for the year 2018, the Work Plan for the year 2020 and the MENAFATF estimated budget for the year 2020.
The Plenary Meeting concluded with the comments of the observers who praised the MENAFATF efforts to protect the region from risks of ML/TF operations and expressed their willingness to cooperate with the MENAFATF in this regard. The delegations also appreciated the good hospitality and organization.
The next (30th) Plenary Meeting will be held from 23 to 28 November 2019.