Samoa has weak anti-money laundering systems - E.U.

The European Commission (EC) has added Samoa to a new list of 23 countries it considers have weak anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regimes.

In a statement issued last Wednesday, the EC said their objective is to protect the financial system of the European Union (EU) through the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing risks. 

“As a result of the listing, banks and other entities covered by EU anti-money laundering rules will be required to apply increased checks (due diligence) on financial operations involving customers, and financial institutions from these high-risk third countries to better identify any suspicious money flows."

“On the basis of a new methodology, which reflects the stricter criteria of the 5th anti-money laundering directive in force since July 2018, the list has been established following an in-depth analysis,” the Commission stated.

According to the EU Commissioner (justice, consumers and gender equality), Věra Jourová, the EU anti-money laundering system is the best in the world but more needs to be done. 

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“We have established the strongest anti-money laundering standards in the world, but we have to make sure that dirty money from other countries does not find its way to our financial system." 

“Dirty money is the lifeblood of organised crime and terrorism. I invite the countries listed to remedy their deficiencies swiftly. The Commission stands ready to work closely with them to address these issues in our mutual interest,” she said.

The EC is mandated to carry out an autonomous assessment and identify the high-risk third countries under the Fourth and Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directives.

The list has been established on the basis of an analysis of 54 priority jurisdictions, which was prepared by the EC in consultation with the Member States and made public November 13 last year. The countries assessed meet at least one of the following criteria: (a) they have systemic impact on the integrity of the EU financial system; (b) they are reviewed by the International Monetary Fund as international offshore financial centres; and (c) they have economic relevance and strong economic ties with the EU.

According to the EC, the 23 countries it has listed have strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering or counter terrorist financing regimes. This includes 12 countries listed by the Financial Action Task Force and 11 additional jurisdictions. Some of the countries listed are already on the current EU list, which includes 16 countries.

In terms of next steps for the countries listed including Samoa, the list will be submitted to the European Parliament and Council for approval within one month (with a possible one-month extension). Once approved, the list will be published in the Official Journal and enter into force 20 days after its publication.

The 23 jurisdictions are: Afghanistan, American Samoa, The Bahamas, Botswana, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guam, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, US Virgin Islands, and Yemen. 

Comment is being sought from Samoa’s financial systems regulatory authorities including the Central Bank. 

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