Qatar’s prominent role in strengthening the international efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism financing has come in for praise from a united global body of some 152 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).
The Egmont Group of FIUs placed on record its acknowledgement to the support of HE Ali Sherif al-Emadi, Qatar’s Minister of Finance, and Sheikh Fahad Faisal al-Thani, deputy governor of Qatar Central Bank and chairman of the National Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Committee.
The counterpart FIUs also praised the valuable contributions that the Qatar FIU has provided to the Egmont Group since its admission as a member in 2005.
The Egmont Group said the working groups meetings and the plenary held recently in Doha discussed the challenges faced by FlUs in combating money laundering, associated predicate offences and terrorist financing; especially in the areas of international co-operation, information sharing and the improved development of financial intelligence.
In his opening address, al-Emadi had highlighted Qatar’ unwavering commitment to the Egmont Group in combating money laundering, associated predicate offences and terrorist financing.
Methods and techniques used in money laundering and terrorism financing crimes are constantly changing, especially with the increasing capacity to utilise the rapid technological developments in carrying out these crimes, he said.
Despite the application of international standards to combat money laundering and terrorism financing, “perpetrators” are familiar with the systems through which they can pass the “illicit” funds, al-Emadi said, highlighting the need for enhancing the financial institutions’ capacity to strengthen co-operation and co-ordination among them to monitor, track and prevent these crimes.
“The success in the fight against these crimes is not easy but it is also not impossible if there is will, capacity and international co-ordination to combat them,” he said, stressing that Qatar has supported all international efforts to combat different types of crimes.
At the Doha meeting, the FIUs approved a white paper on the utility of cross-border wire transfer reporting; flexible, information exchange standards for FIUs; report on business e-mail compromise and FIU Information System Maturity Model training materials, among others.
“Qatar has succeeded in strengthening its legislative, regulatory and technical framework to combat money laundering and terrorism funding,” according to Sheikh Fahad.
The Egmont Group specially thanked Sheikh Ahmed al-Thani, head of the Qatar FIU (QFIU) and his team for the plenary meeting in Doha.
The Middle East and North Africa region currently comprises 11 FIUs representing besides Qatar, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
According to the QFIU website, the number of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) increased by more than 36% year-on-year to 702 in 2015, with exchange houses constituting 77% and banks 16%.
Regarding individuals identified as being involved in suspicious financial activities during 2015, QFIU found exchange houses have the highest rate of STRs (89%), followed by banks (10%), finance and investment companies (1%) and insurance companies (1%). The number of “suspects” grew more than 58% to 1,241 in 2015.
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