The Executive Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit or FIU Alexander Cuffy, is frustrated over alleged lack of cooperation by public agencies, including non-financial support to his agency in executing its statutory mandates.
The FIU is the central, national agency of Liberia responsible for receiving, requesting and conducting preliminary investigations, analyzing and disseminating information concerning suspected proceeds of money laundering, terrorist financing and other financial crimes.
It is part of GIABA (Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in West Africa), a specialized institution of ECOWAS responsible for facilitating the adoption and implementation of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures in West Africa.
Speaking during a stakeholder discussion Wednesday, 24 October at the World Bank Liberia Office in Oldest Congo Town, Mr. Cuffy says it is incomprehensible that government institutions would renege on providing relevant documents requested by the FIU in accordance with law to investigate financial crimes and money laundering.
The discussion was centered on a new World Bank publication “License To Drill” – “a how to” manual aims at helping countries improve background checks on applicants for licenses and concessions in natural resource and extractive sectors.
He laments that the issue of financial crimes affect both the country and the economy, and rightful government institutions are refusing to provide documents and funding to enhance his operation.The FIU Executive Director did not point to specific institutions, but he also coordinates the current Presidential Investigation Team that is probing the alleged missing “containers and bags of moneys” totaling 15.5 billion Liberian banknotes.
The Team is comprised of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, (LACC) the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the National Security Agency.It is not clear what level of support – financial and material the Team is receiving from government and relevant public institutions to enhance the current investigation.
But House Speaker Bhofal Chambers publicly said recently that the Legislature would not submit to any probe about the alleged missing moneys, not even from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
At a recent Ministry of Information press briefing, Mr. Cuffy called on public officials to refrain from making inflammatory comments that could undermine the ongoing investigation.
“We ask the government to give us not less than six weeks as a timeframe to unveil our findings”, he promised.He said as part of the investigation, the Team will review the authorization of printing of money and other currencies, saying, “We’re also looking into accountability of Liberian dollars bank notes, foreign currency, foreign exchange, and auction and the infusion into the economy of the US$ 25 million dollars recently.”
-Over lack of cooperation, financial support
By Jonathan Browne