St. Julian’s, Malta – The 24th annual Egmont Working and Regional Groups Meetings hosted by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit of Malta took place from January 29 – February 3, 2024, in St. Julian’s, Malta. Through its structure of four Working Groups and eight Regional Groups, the Egmont Group (EG) aims to realize its goal of development, cooperation, and the sharing of expertise among Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) across the globe to better combat money laundering (ML), associated predicate offences, and terrorist financing (TF) and to promote the development of effective FIUs. These meetings provide the Egmont Working and Regional Groups with the opportunity to collaborate on projects and initiatives in support of the 2022-2027 Egmont Strategic Plan.
This year’s event was attended by 423 delegates, and 17 observer organisations were also invited to contribute to the Working and Regional Groups’ activities. Member FIUs signed 19 Memorandums of Understanding during the week, strengthening the opportunities for financial intelligence sharing on ML/TF matters.
The EG is pleased to present that it now boasts 174 members following the acceptance of the FIUs from Guyana, Kenya, Oman and Timor-Leste as members of the organisation. The EG continues to strengthen its membership through outreach efforts in geographic regions of strategic focus, including Africa, Asia and Pacific, and the Middle East and Northern Africa.
The Heads of FIUs present in Malta selected the Board tasked with providing strategic direction for the IT infrastructure used by Egmont Group members to exchange financial intelligence and collaborate on AML/CFT issues. Additionally, the Heads of FIU discussed future IT developments that could improve international information exchange amongst member FIUs.
During the meetings in Malta, the Information Exchange Working Group (IEWG) discussed the status of ongoing projects and identified new areas of interest to support FIU’s needs effectively. The IEWG progressed its work on:
- Effective Data Analysis IT Tools and Cloud-Based Services for FIUs; and
- The role of FIUs in the National Risk Assessment process.
The IEWG also approved several products for further noting or endorsement by the HoFIU, which included:
- Updates of the 2021 E-Catalogue on Regulated VASPs;
- Abuse of Non-profit Organisations for Terrorist Financing Purposes;
- FIU’s Role in Combatting Sanctions Evasion of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on terrorism financing and Proliferation; as well as a
- Methodology for the Improvement the Effectiveness of IEWG Products, Ways to Ensure Their Use and Application in Practice and Measuring the Impact.
The Policies and Procedures Working Group (PPWG) reviewed operational policies and strategic issues, including the organisation’s approach towards support and compliance matters as well as the important issue of FIU operational independence and autonomy. In addition, the group worked towards developing templates for multilateral information exchanges Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) among FIUs and guidelines for MoUs between FIUs and Law Enforcement Agencies.
The Membership Support and Compliance Working Group (MSCWG) discussed four membership applications from candidate FIUs and agreed that two of them meet the Egmont Group’s Membership Criteria. The membership of these two FIUs will be recommended to the Heads of FIU for endorsement during the Egmont meetings in June 2024.
The MSCWG also received an interesting presentation from FATF about relevant aspects related to FIUs found during the 4th Round of Mutual Evaluations. This was the first of future initiatives aimed at strengthening cooperation with international partner organisations, as stipulated in the EG Strategic Plan 2022-2027.
The Training and Technical Assistance Working Group (TATWG) met to discuss the planning of the upcoming 2024 Plenary training activities, future business plan goals focusing on rebranding, and EG member needs. The WG also discussed training development to increase EG members’ effectiveness and enhance skills, knowledge, and expertise through broad-based training, initiatives, and collaboration with international organisations and observers. Next, the TATWG members endorsed documents which will help structure and improve the quality of future projects.
Delegates participated in workshops and operational training sessions throughout the week, including:
- The IEWG/TATWG workshop on Combating Cyber-Enabled Fraud (CEF) aimed to enhance FIUs’ risk understanding of the threat posed by CEF in partnership with FATF and INTERPOL.
- The IEWG/TATWG workshop on Countering Trade Based Money Laundering (TBML), Service Based Money Laundering (SBML) and Misuse of Corporate Structures to help FIUs become better equipped to overcome several challenges encountered during the analysis of information related to this category of crime.
- The Egmont Centre of FIU Excellence and Leadership (ECOFEL) workshop on Asset Recovery aimed to provide delegates with the necessary tools, mechanisms, and processes to effectively identify, trace and freeze proceeds of crime in a timely manner through close cooperation as a large component of successful asset recovery is cooperation, both domestically and internationally.
Throughout the week, the organisation also selected important leadership roles for a two-year mandate, including:
- The Information Exchange Working Group (IEWG) selected the following WG Vice-Chairs: Alistair Sands, FIU Australia, Cvetelina Stoyanova, FIU Bulgaria, Muhammad Jiya, FIU Nigeria, Sonja Corstanje-Maaskant, FIU the Netherlands, Yuval Rabin, FIU Israel;
- The Membership Support and Compliance Working Group (MSCWG) selected the following WG Vice-Chairs: Abdelsattar Elnajar, FIU Egypt, Vince O’Brien, FIU United Kingdom;
- The Policies and Procedures Working Group (PPWG) selected Eva Ten Brink, FIU the Netherlands, as WG Chair and Yaqoob AlMuftah, FIU Bahrain, as WG Vice-Chair;
- The Training and Technical Assistance Working Group (TATWG) selected Amr Rashed, FIU Egypt, for a second mandate as WG Chair;
- The Eurasia Regional Group selected Ulan Raissov, FIU Kazakhstan, as Regional Representative; and
- The West and Central Africa Regional Group selected Mohammed Shahid Ahmed, FIU Nigeria, for a second mandate as Regional Representative.
- The EG would like to thank its Observers and International Partners for their continuous support and cooperation, including the valuable updates and presentations shared during the meetings from the Council of Europe (CoE), European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (EUROPOL), Financial Action Task Force (FATF), General Counsel for the International Association of Prosecutors (IAC), International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), World Bank, World Customs Organization (WCO), and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
It is with great pleasure that the EG thanks FIAU Malta for hosting the 24th Working and Regional Group Meetings in St. Julian’s, Malta. As always, the EG is grateful to our hosts for their time and efforts in planning this year’s event. Congratulations to the Head of FIAU Malta, Alfred Zammit, and his dedicated team for organising a successful event!
St. Julian’s, Malta
February 8, 2024
The Egmont Group is comprised of 174 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs). It provides a platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence on combating money laundering and terrorist financing. FIUs are uniquely positioned to cooperate and support national and international efforts to counter terrorist financing and are the trusted gateway for sharing financial information domestically and internationally in accordance with global AML/CTF standards.
Further EG information and a list of EG member FIUs can be found at egmontgroup.org.