The 30th Plenary Meeting of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing was closed, on Thursday, 28 November 2019. It was held in Cairo, the Arab Republic of Egypt, for 3 days, starting 26 November 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.
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 French Republic, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Kingdom of Spain, the Federal Republic of Germany, 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 Egmont Group).
The Plenary Meeting addressed, during its sessions, 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 7th Operational Forum on Terrorist Financing (OFTF) which was held on the margins of the 30th Plenary Meeting on 23 November 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 NPO sector in TF operations, based on the practical experience of the participating experts. Countries efforts to assess TF risks posed by the NPO sector were also addressed, in addition to the size of criminal proceeds generated from the migrant smuggling crime and its relation with the TF offense, the most important challenges faced by countries when dealing with this type of crimes, along with the provision of some solutions and recommendations for countries to mitigate the risks of the migrant smuggling crime.
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 with respect to the FATF report on financing Daesh, Al-Qaeda and their affiliated groups, and the guidance on TF investigation and prosecution.
The 2nd round of mutual evaluations of the MENAFATF member countries for their compliance with the international standards on combating money laundering and financing terrorism and proliferation
In the context of the 2nd round of the member countries evaluations for their compliance with the (revised) international standards on combating money laundering and financing terrorism and proliferation according to the revised assessment methodology issued by the FATF, the Plenary Meeting adopted the paper on the procedures for the 2nd round of mutual evaluation and follow-up process, based on the observations raised during the Mutual Evaluation Working Group (MEWG) meeting.
As to the adoption of the Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) for Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Plenary Meeting decided, based on the MENAFATF Procedures, to adopt the said MER and to place Jordan under the enhanced follow-up, provided that it submits the 1st Enhanced Follow-Up Report (FUR) to the MENAFATF 32nd Plenary Meeting in November 2020. It also decided to take into consideration the observations and comments raised at the MEWG and the Plenary meetings, and to follow the post-Plenary procedures according to the MENAFATF Procedures.
The Plenary Meeting adopted the 4th Enhanced FUR for the Republic of Tunisia (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 Tunisia in enhancing its national AML/CFT regime. The Plenary also adopted the 1st Enhanced FUR for the Kingdom of Bahrain (without technical compliance re-rating) and the update of the 1st Enhanced FUR submitted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (with some technical compliance re-ratings).
As to the Voluntary Tax Compliance Program in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Plenary Meeting decided to adopt the update submitted by the country on the Voluntary Tax Compliance Program.
In the context of typologies, the Plenary Meeting adopted the recommendation of the Technical Assistance and Typologies Working Group (TATWG) to implement the typologies project on combating money laundering through human trafficking and migrant smuggling crimes, starting from the beginning of 2020, with the membership of: the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Republic of Tunisia, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republic of Sudan, the State of Libya and the Kingdom of Morocco. And under the co-chairmanship of the Republic of Tunisia and the Arab Republic of Egypt to lead the working group in charge of the project, knowing that the project was supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC).
The Plenary Meeting also adopted the MENAFATF training plan for the years 2020-2021.
MENAFATF meetings held in the margins of the Plenary Meeting
In the margins of the Plenary Meeting, the Advisory Committee held its meeting on Friday, 22 November 2019, and the OFTF and the Financial Intelligence Units Forum (FIUF) held their meetings on Saturday, 23 November 2019. The MEWG meeting was held during the period from 24 to 25 November 2019, while the National Risk Assessment Committee (NRAC) meeting was held on Sunday, 24 November 2019 and the TATWG meeting on Monday, 25 November 2019. The Plenary Meeting adopted the working groups and committees co-chairs reports and approved upon their recommendations.
The Plenary examined several topics relating to plans and funding, in addition to many important administrative and regulatory issues that were all adopted.
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 praised the good hospitality and organization of the event.
The next MENAFATF (31st) Plenary Meeting will be held in the Kingdom of Bahrain, during the period from 11 to 16 April 2020.