OPENING REMARKS BY THE HONORABLE BASIL WILLIAMS, SC, MP AT THE OPENING OF THE CFATF PLENARY MEETING XLVII, PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO.
Honourable Attorneys General,
Hon. Faris Al Rawi
Dr. Lawrence Joseph, Attorney General,
Hon. Samuel Bulgin, Attorney General,
Hon. John McKendrick QC, Attorney General,
Hon. Rhondalee Braithwaite Knowles – Attorney General,
The Honourable Carl Wilshire Bethel, QC – Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs,
Hon. Sheree E. Jemmotte-Rodney, Attorney General (Ag.),
Hon. Levi A. Peter, Attorney General
Elsworth N. Johnson, Minister of State,
Heads of Delegation,
Cooperating and Supporting Nations (COSUNs) and Observer Organisations,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to Trinidad and Tobago and to the CFATF’s 47th Plenary meeting. Your presence here today and in such large numbers demonstrate ongoing commitment of our Membership to the work of the CFATF in fostering regional implementation of countermeasures to address Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and the Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The COSUNs, the FATF Secretariat and all Observers have been longstanding colleagues who have and continue to place tremendous investment of human and financial resources over the years to assist our jurisdictions in building critical AML/CFT capacity. We value your generosity and remain committed to partnering with you throughout the Fourth Round of Mutual Evaluations.
Deepest appreciation must be expressed to the Staff at the Secretariat for their dedication and commitment throughout the membership. Since we last met in November 2017 in Georgetown, Guyana we have had some changes to the composition of the Staff. I am pleased to welcome our new Executive Director, Ms. Dawne Spicer who assumed the post of ED on February 1, 2018.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Mr. Calvin Wilson our former Executive Director for his twenty years of dedicated service to the CFATF. In addition to Ms. Spicer, I would also like to welcome Ms. Ayana Jack, Translator/Administrative Assistant who successfully replaced Ms. Carmen Solano who has migrated to the United States of America. We expect during the coming year to welcome additional staff to the Secretariat; an additional Deputy Executive Director to replace the spot left vacant by Ms. Spicer; Project staff for the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and another specialist staff to assist Members with financial sector supervision. Despite all the additions, the Secretariat still needs additional staff and we hope that Members consider the secondment of those staff to the Secretariat.
We have a full agenda of relevant issues with the presentation of the Mutual Evaluation Report of Antigua and Barbuda tomorrow morning being our primary focus. Issues discussed in the Heads of FIU, CFATF Risk Trends and Methods (CRTMG) Working Group, CFATF International Cooperation Review Group, and the Working Group on FATF Issues (WGFI) will all be presented over the next two days.
The Fourth Round of Mutual Evaluations continue to present challenges to our small Member States that are dealing with economies affected by low levels of financial growth, recovery from hurricanes and de-risking. Resources are being stretched as we all use our best efforts to legislatively strengthen our AML/CFT frameworks, establish measures to deal with Proliferation Financing (PF) and implement the AML/CFT laws and processes to a level that can be considered as ‘High’ or ‘Substantial’ levels of effectiveness.
I am confident that we as CFATF Members will continue to improve our compliance with the FATF Standards and increase our levels of effective implementation. Towards this end, my Work Programme has thus far been able to address the important areas of training and funding.
The recently concluded AML/CFT/CVE training for Judges and Prosecutors which occurred earlier this month in Georgetown, Guyana was the CFATF’s version of the series of ongoing global workshops for Judges and Prosecutors that have been conducted jointly between the FATF and FSRBs as part of FATF President Otamendi’s mandate during his tenure. I would like to once again thank the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth; the Right Honourable Baroness Patricia Scotland, her dedicated team from the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and my own Government for funding this Workshop. I also commend the work done by the Secretariat and facilitators from the United Kingdom, Jamaica and the RSS-ARU in making the event a success.
While the Workshop was not a joint undertaking with the FATF due to the scheduled dates of the event, I am pleased to state that we were able to provide the FATF with a report on the outcomes of our Workshop, which could be used as part of the overall report on the experiences, challenges and good practices regarding ML/TF investigations, prosecutions and confiscations.
Based on feedback received, the Workshop was a success and provided Judges and Prosecutors with the opportunity to not only enhance their knowledge on the technical requirements pertaining to ML, TF and criminal and civil confiscation, but to take part in practical exercises that highlighted some of the challenges that are faced in having successful matters in this area of the law.
The Workshop is also likely to have been the only one in the global network that presented the issue of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) and its relationship to terrorism and terrorism financing.
I intend to ensure, funding permitting of course, that during my term as CFATF Chair, there are other opportunities for training that will enable us as a Region to increase our application of our laws and in so doing obtain better results in our respective mutual evaluations. In that regard, the Secretariat is in the early stages of planning an asset recovery training seminar. I also look forward to the start of the 11th EDF, which will assist some of our Members with their Fourth round mutual evaluation implementation requirements. We have also had assessors training in January in Georgetown and will be undertaking joint assessors training for members with the FATF in Port of Spain in July.
In executing our primary mandate, our mutual evaluation programme, which includes the mutual evaluation, follow-up and for our Members thus far, the FATF ICRG process, it is necessary that we collaborate with the Secretariat and each other. Our workload is becoming more grueling in the face of limited resources. I therefore urge all Members to be confident, creative and active participant in the work of the CFATF, not only as it relates to your own mutual evaluation but to the overall work of this organisation.
I look forward to our deliberations and the full engagement by everyone.