“Help strengthen Liberia’s financial system against waste and abuse”
The Director General of Liberia’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Edwin Harris, has pledged to fully endorse the globally recognized practice for banks and other institutions operating in Liberia to professionally implement a uniform procedure of ” know your customer” (KYC), without compromise, to help strengthen Liberia’s financial system against waste and abuse.
Harris, who spoke at the formal induction ceremony for the interim leadership of the Liberia Compliance Officers Forum (COF) on July 14, explained that only one recognized financial or banking procedure for incorporation of clients has the propensity to put Liberia on a level playing field with other countries in the West Africa region and the world at large that uphold compliance and protect the financial systems of their respective countries.
According to him, with a robust and professional implementation of this proposed banking procedure that supports background checks and sources of finance for potential prospective clients are properly verified, Liberia stands to gain huge support from donors and sustainable investments that could reorganize the country’s stressful situation. economy that needs more external and internal support.
He mentioned that Liberia’s economic story can be changed if all private and public sector players support and adhere to the proposed uniform KYC procedure, which financial entities in other countries perform without fear and from which they benefit. The FIU Managing Director said that the KYC procedure must be approved at the national level and calls on all players in banking, finance, digital banking, mobile money and other sectors to take ownership of the country for the benefit of Liberian society and its people.
Harris, who is also the current chair of the West Africa FIU Forum or the ECOWAS region, also warned banks, telecom service providers, insurers and currency exchange operators , among other things, to ensure that their compliance officers acquire continuous training to improve their skills in carrying out their duties.
He stated that the establishment of the Liberia Compliance Officers Forum information dissemination regarding the recent changes in the FATF standards and other AML/CFT regulations are very critical matters that need to be addressed. prioritized by the new interim leadership of COF-Liberia.
Also speaking, George Mensah-Asante, CEO of Ecobank Liberia and President of the Liberia Bankers Association, said that the establishment of the compliance forum is the first of its kind in Liberia and its organization is a milestone. in promoting the culture of compliance. in Liberia.
“We will want to see Know Your Customer (KYC) processes centralized and a customer who is rejected by an institution for impropriety or fraudulent practices through legal means will also receive the same treatment as other institutions in the same situation and will not not be hosted. to curb the proliferation of these serious crimes,” he said.
According to him, the establishment of the forum could bring competitiveness and added value for the compliance function in all sectors in Liberia. He expressed his optimism that the forum could serve as a platform for sharing ideas, experiences and best practices among compliance professionals in all sectors of the Liberian economy.
He said that the issue of the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation are key themes that have been discussed over the years, and that the players in the financial space have been made aware of challenge of putting in place measures to mitigate these high levels of corrupt practices and financial crimes.
“As we all prepare for the next mutual evaluation, we would like to congratulate the FIU on the launch of the national strategy and action plan which provides the roadmap leading to the mutual evaluation in September 2022, but we wish also that we all work hard to get a good rating when the assessors come to rate our institutions,” noted the CEO of Ecobank Liberia.
For his part, Kojo G. Weeks, Acting President of the Liberia Compliance Officers Forum, said that his professional colleagues who are members of the forum serve as strategic gatekeepers when it comes to preventing, minimizing and supporting strict respect for what we talk about so much. “Know Your Customer” procedure, which eminent financial actors have strongly recommended for its application in Liberia.
According to him, KYC has the ability, when fully implemented in all banks, mobile money operators and other sectors, to protect and prevent corrupt financial practices.
He wants officials from all banks, financial service providers and insurance operators, among other sectors, to see compliance as a national obligation that is in the best interests of Liberian society and its people. Elected to direct the affairs of the forum are Kojo G. Weeks, president; Augustin Josiah, vice-president; Comfort Sevilla, Secretary General; Pierre, financial secretary; and Onike Bedell, Treasurer.