KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – United States (US) Ambassador to Jamaica, Luis Moreno, says the US Mission in Jamaica is working closely with local stakeholders to curb financial crimes and boost regulatory compliance of financial institutions.
This is in response to the threat of international correspondent banks cutting ties with local and regional financial institutions in a move to eliminate risk of crimes such as money laundering, fraud and terrorism financing.
Moreno, addressing the final day of the fifth Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Tuesday, said his Mission recognises the critical nature of correspondent banking relationships to the local economy.
As such, he said the embassy is seeking to help local partners build capacity, increase transparency and comply with the regulatory framework of the US.
“We have mutual interest in fighting the scourge. We are partners in this effort; and together, through more dialogue and action, we can combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism without sacrificing the important correspondent banking relationships,” Moreno said.
He noted that the US Embassy has offered training in best practices to law-enforcement, prosecutors and other stakeholders on how to combat financial crimes.
They also provide training to investigators at the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) and the Financial Investigations Division (FID) and help in criminal investigations that lead to money-laundering charges.
Moreno said the Embassy has also trained regulators in non-financial sectors, such as realtors, accountants and attorneys, as well as professionals from the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission and the Casino Gaming Commission in developing sound practices to ensure risk of money laundering and terrorism financing are understood, identified and reported.
“We work with our counterparts, law enforcement and regulatory, to develop and share money-laundering and terrorism-financing methods and trends,” he said.
The US Embassy also has an ongoing Jamaica Operations Linked to Telemarketing (JOLT) Task Force designed to facilitate identification, investigation and prosecution of telemarketers who victimise US and Jamaican citizens.
“Deficiencies in anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism are a few drivers of de-risking that jurisdictions can address. It is essential that countries and their financial institutions work to improve their controls, and it’s also important that they publicise the efforts in an increasingly risk-averse economic climate,” he said.
He said the US Government is working to develop appropriate policy responses to advance the objective of combating financial crimes, while also providing and promoting financial inclusion.
Correspondent banking involves a bank in one country facilitating certain services for a financial institution in another country, including wire transfers, business transactions, deposits and gathering of documents.
Over the last five years, a number of international banks have restricted or ended their relationship with the region due to concerns about money laundering, fraud and terrorist financing.
The two-day Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Financing of Terrorism Conference, to facilitate discussion on strengthening compliance, was hosted by the Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA) and the Jamaica Institute of Financial Services (JIFS), under the theme ‘Understanding our obligations… Safeguarding our Future’.
Source : http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/US-Embassy-working-with-Jamaica-to-curb-financial-crimes532