It has been over one year since the Heads of Financial Intelligence Units (HoFIU) entrusted me with the great responsibility of chairing this prestigious organisation, which brings together more than 150 financial intelligence units from around the world. Whilst we are from different legal and cultural backgrounds we share the same goal of making the world a safer place through tackling the economic power of criminal organisations. Whilst I have approached my responsibilities with full commitment and passion my efforts have only met with success due to the extraordinary support of my colleagues in the Egmont Committee (EC) and in the Egmont Group Secretariat (EGS).
The following four new Working Groups formed in February 2016 have been working tirelessly in order to continue with the implementation of the two Key Result Areas (KRAs) of the Egmont Group Strategic Plan 2014-2017 :
• Information Exchange on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Working Group (IEWG);
• Membership, Support, and Compliance Working Group (MSCWG);
• Policy and Procedures Working Group (PPWG); and
• Technical Assistance and Training Working Group (TATWG).
I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the Working Groups for their strong leadership, and for their determined efforts to meet these KRAs which will allow us to accomplish the crucial goals of the Egmont Group, such as to promote the development of effective financial intelligence units (FIUs) through the support and compliance procedures, to support members in order to enhance their capacity and expertise, to develop and deliver technical assistance and training, and to promote the adherence of all FIUs to international standards.
There are three relevant and critical AML/CFT challenges that our organisation has to tackle immediately and without compromise:
• Counter financing of terrorism.
• Beneficial ownership/transparency issues.
• Risks posed by not being responsive to the innovations in the financial sector.
Rest assured, these challenges are being prioritised by the EC, and important decisions have been taken in that regard:
• By the beginning of 2016 Phase I of the ISIL project was concluded, regarding the study of multilateral information sharing to identify FTF characteristics and indicators. Key recommendations were made to FIUs thanks to this project, such us sharing the Egmont FTF indicators with reporting entities, engaging with domestic intelligence agencies (security services), enhancing spontaneous or multilateral sharing of TF-related information with other FIUs, and sharing experiences and best practices with other FIUs.
• Currently the ISIL Project Team is undertaking Phase II, where we will be able to develop ways to use financial intelligence to identify FTF facilitation, logistics, and travel networks related terrorist groups and their affiliates, as well as a TF Emergency Response Checklist advising what to do in response to a terrorist attack.
• In addition, through the work of the IEWG, the PPWG, and the TATWG, important initiatives are expected to be taken in order to tackle the problem of the limited access to beneficial ownership records and cross-border wire transfer information across and within jurisdictions. Thanks to the work of these working groups, we are expecting to address this issue through a targeted multi-lateral sharing project on financial crime, by demonstrating the intelligence value of cross-border wire transfer reports based on the existing projects and the capacity building of member FIUs.
As you can see, these are very challenging tasks that will require full support of all FIUs, by collaborating closely with their Regional Groups and Working Groups. Given the level of cooperation that the Egmont Group memberFIUs have shown since the inception of this organisation, I am convinced that we will meet our ambitious goals for the next year with professionalism and team spirit.
Finally, I don’t want to finish these remarks without giving the warmest welcome to our colleagues of the FIU-Ecuador , as the 152nd member of our organisation, and to our new Executive Secretary, Mr. Jérôme Beaumont, who was appointed after a hard-fought selection process thanks to his outstanding capabilities for the position. I am convinced that under his leadership the EGS will maintain its exceptional commitment and professionalism.
Chair, Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units (2015 – present)