Central Bank Governor Maiava Atalina Ainuu-Enari has praised the passage of amendments to the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2007, saying it is a step in the right direction.
The amendments will ensure local laws are aligned with international legislation to combat money laundering, specifically the Financial Action Task Force (F.A.T.F.) of which Samoa is a member.
“We need to keep changing and amending our laws in order to keep up with the standards and developments in the financial system. We don’t just adopt standards, we make sure we filter and domesticate it, ensuring that the standards when implemented are as practical for Samoa as possible,” she said in an email, in response to questions sent by Samoa Observer.
“However, the F.A.T.F. cannot oversee the entire global system, so they divided it into different regions. The region that Samoa is under is the Asia Pacific Group and they assess each of its member countries every five years (which are all from the Asia Pacific region) in terms of compliance. Samoa was mutually evaluated in 2015.”
It is important Samoa is a part of this organisation and complies with their policies, she added.
“We can no longer operate alone in the global system. If we don’t comply with international standards, then there are consequences for our non-compliance. We may be put on the name-and-shame list, which is referred to as the ‘grey list’, Vanuatu was recently on this list, and this didn’t sit well with them and their economy.”
She warned that the black-listing of Samoa for non-compliance will have a lot of implications for the economy and will turn away foreign investors.
“Depending on the severity of non-compliance, we may be black-listed, and then we can no longer do business with other countries and genuine investors will think twice about investing in Samoa.”
The passing of the legislative amendments will also compliment the Government’s efforts to create a stronger and stable financial sector macroeconomic framework, which she said will sustain economic growth as stipulated in the Strategy for the Development of Samoa 2016/17-2019/20.
“We first passed the Money Laundering Prevention Act in the year 2000. However, given the change in standards, we had to re-vamp the old law in its entirety, and this led to the birth of the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2007. It has taken us more than 10 years to do another amendment given the significant changes in the international standards and to address emerging issues prompted from evolving and innovative technology that were not in the law,” she added.