Main conclusions of the international forum “FIU Autonomy: Building an Effective AML/CFT System”

10.02.2022

On 7th February 2022, an international forum was organised by the Financial Intelligence Unit of Latvia entitled “FIU Autonomy: Building an Effective AML/CFT System”. The aim of the event was to promote discussions and raise awareness on the topic of the role of autonomous financial intelligence units (FIU) in the development of an effective system for preventing the money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF). The forum brought together more than 200 participants from more than 20 countries.

Main conclusions of the forum:

 

  • Money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) is directly linked to the national security. If unaddressed, ML/TF threatens not only the legitimacy and authority of the country, but also its security, prosperity and sustainability.
  • Independence and autonomy are prerequisites for an effective functioning of the Financial Intelligence units. It is important that the FIU is autonomous in both – it’s activities and decision-making.
  • FIU have a unique role: they provide a linkage between private sector and law enforcement authorities. The independence and autonomy is therefore very important.
  • FIU plays a central role in the national ML/TF prevention system. In the event of political interference or any other external impact on the operation of the FIU, there may be leakages of sensitive information, reduced trust in its operation and overall resilience to financial risks.
  • The criminal world is adapting and finding increasingly new ways to commit financial crimes. The issue of criminal offences in the digital environment has been raising particularly during the pandemic.
  • In the exchange of FIU information with foreign and domestic counterparties, it should be ensured that the information held by the FIU is used only for its intended purposes. If the independence of the FIU is affected, there is a risk of misuse of information. FIU autonomy plays an important role in the fight against corruption.
  • The quality of information provided by the private sector to FIU often depends on the level of mutual trust. It is also important that the information received is adequately protected and that is the task of the FIU.
  • In order to increase the effectiveness of the FIU in the fight against ML/TF nowadays, new operational tools, information exchange systems and innovation has to been implemented.
  • In a global world where financial crimes are increasingly borderless, effective and regular international FIUs cooperation is essential.
  • Money laundering contributes to crime at national level and therefore the FIU has a unique role in preventing these crimes as well as in the overall fight against financial crime.
  • In order to ensure the independence of FIUs, the staff of FIU should be protected against criminal and civil liability in cases where they have acted for investigative purposes.
  • An autonomous budget as well as an objective and transparent process of appointing the head of FIU are essential preconditions for ensuring independence of the FIUs.
  • If the FIU is not sufficiently independent and therefore ineffective or does not have sufficient resources, this may have an impact on the whole ML/TF prevention system. Moreover, it may also have a negative impact on the country's ability to combat financial crimes and therefore undermine the overall economic development and prosperity.
  • Effective FIU should not only work with suspicious transaction reports it receives, but also be proactive in analysing the work and data of credit institutions, as well as carry out proactive strategic analysis.
  • It is essential for FIU to maintain a balance between independence, autonomy and accountability in the performance of its functions defined by law. The FIU must not exceed its authority.
  • Cooperation in the framework of the public-private partnership plays an important role in the ML/TF prevention system; the private sector is capable to contribute to the efforts of public authorities in the fight against financial crime.
  • Effective FIUs should be active, focused on collaboration and exploit the opportunities offered by the new technologies in their work.

 

 

 

 

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