Maiava highlights concerns in E.U. blacklisting

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By Sapeer Mayron, 21 February 2019

The Central Bank of Samoa has identified three concerns with the listing of Samoa on an unofficial “blacklist” of countries that have weak anti-money laundering (AML) regulations by the European Commission.

Samoa, along with 22 other countries, has been included on a list developed by combining the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) compliance methodology with its own, leaving several countries, including the United States, upset.

In a statement, CBS Governor Maiava Atalina Ainuu-Enari said the new list differs greatly from the FATF process, which Samoa has been cooperating closely with, which is a cause for concern.

Last year, Samoa amended AML legislation to improve compliance with FATF standards, which resulted in a slight upgrade and lessened the reporting requirements of Samoa to the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), FATF’s arm in the Pacific.

“This is a reflection of how well Samoa’s AML systems are doing, as the reporting has been relaxed to 12 months [from six months],” Maiava said.

“It may also be appropriate to note that Samoa has in fact never been blacklisted for non-compliance with the FATF standards.”

According to Maiava, CBS is concerned that the European Union (EU) did not provide a detailed assessment, rather just a brief explanation for why Samoa was blacklisted.

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Samoa was notified just days before the list was made public, and the countries on the list were not given “meaningful opportunity to challenge their inclusion,” or address the issues the EU identified, Maiava said.

“As a result, the EU has produced a list that is inconsistent with the FATF list, without reasonable support.

“Samoa has always been a willing member in the global fight against money laundering and terrorism financing, including adopting the global standards to combat them,” said Maiava.

She said CBS stands with the United States, which has “significant concerns” about the EU diverging from FATF’s listings.

The US has also come out to strongly oppose the inclusion of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands on the list, and is encouraging financial institutions to ignore the list.

According to the EU, the list, as a ‘delegated regulation’ will become official 20 days after its publication following approval by the European Parliament and Council.

“The Commission will continue its engagement with the countries identified as having strategic deficiencies in the present Delegated Regulation and will further engage especially on the delisting criteria. This list enables the countries concerned to better identify the areas for improvement in order to pave the way for a possible delisting once strategic deficiencies are addressed,” the Commission states.

According to the statement, the Commission will work with listed countries and amend the list as they see improvements.

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

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By Sapeer Mayron, 21 February 2019

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