Belize

Belize in its 8th Follow-Up Report has addressed the deficiencies noted in the Core and Key Recommendations rated PC/NC (R. 1, 4, 5, 10, 13, 23, 35, 40, SR. I – V) to a level of compliance that is comparable to at least an LC. It is therefore recommended to Plenary that Belize should be allowed to exit the third round follow-up process.

Belize 8th Follow-Up Report

Success for Belize at CFATF Plenary

Press Release: GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE, Ministry of Finance, Belmopan, Belize
Date: Friday 5th June 2015

On Wednesday, May 28, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) determined that Belize successfully qualified to exit both the CFATF Follow-up Process and ICRG Review. To make this determination, CFATF and ICRG assessors conducted a robust review of the measures undertaken by Belize to address deficiencies in its regime to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. This review included scrutiny of the legislative framework and implementation of that framework by AML/CFT supervisors and the private sector. By exiting both ICRG Review and CFATF Follow-up Process, Belize now joins the vanguard of CFATF member countries who have achieved the highest levels of compliance with international standards.

CFATF is an organisation of 27 jurisdictions of the Caribbean Basin that have all agreed to implement the international standards to combat money laundering and terrorist financing established by the Financial Action Task Force Recommendations (FATF Recommendations). Since 2011, Belize has been working closely with the CFATF to address the deficiencies identified in Belize’s AML/CFT regime. Those efforts were redoubled when, in November 2013, the CFATF issued a Public Statement identifying Belize as having strategic deficiencies in its AML/CFT regime. Since that time, Belize worked tirelessly, bringing together technical capacity and strong political will, to remedy the situation described by the CFATF and set a CFATF record, exiting the Follow-up Process faster than any other jurisdiction with similar levels of deficiencies.

Upon analysis of the legislation and measures taken and a rigorous examination process that included both public sector authorities and members of the private sector, the CFATF ICRG issued a public statement confirming Belize’s accomplishments and announcing Belize’s successful exit from ICRG Review and the CFATF Follow-up Process. That statement can be found on the CFATF website here 

In addition to the ICRG review, CFATF assessors made a detailed analysis of the deficiencies identified in Belize’s Mutual Evaluation Report and specific measures taken to address them. This analysis forms CFATF’s 8th Follow-Up Report on Belize

CFATF member countries expressed their congratulations to Belize for making such remarkable progress in such a short time. Research shows that only Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, both jurisdictions with only minor shortcomings, were able to exit Follow-up in less time than Belize.

Belize has won an impressive victory in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing but the process is ongoing. The Belize Delegation to the CFATF and the National Anti-money Laundering Committee advise that implementation must continue and current enforcement measures will be enhanced. Compliance and supervision of both financial services and designated non-financial businesses and professions will continue to be crucial, as will matters of national and international co-operation, co-ordination and mutual legal assistance.

To avoid repeating the reputational damage and economic consequences Belize suffered in 2013, the Government of Belize is fully committed to strengthening the AML/CFT regime and Belize’s international reputation as a well regulated financial services centre. Exiting Follow-up in record time is a strong indication of that commitment. In the coming months, the Government of Belize will continue to demonstrate that commitment as efforts are undertaken to ensure compliance with new elements of the FATF Recommendations and prepare for the next round of mutual evaluations.

JURISDICTIONS WHICH EXITED THE FOLLOW-UP AND ICRG MONITORING: Belize

The May 2015 Plenary recognised that Belize had made significant progress in addressing the deficiencies identified in their 2011 Mutual Evaluation Report and therefore exited the follow-up process.

Belize has addressed the deficiencies noted in the Core and Key Recommendations rated PC/NC (R. 1, 4, 5, 10, 13, 23, 35, 40, SR. I – V) to a level of compliance that is comparable to at least an LC.

A detailed analysis of compliance with these Recommendations and progress made with other Recommendations, can be found in the country’s 8th Follow-Up Report.

JURISDICTIONS THAT WERE UNDER CFATF ICRG REVIEW AND HAVE MADE SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN ADDRESSING THEIR AML/CFT DEFICIENCIES

The CFATF acknowledges the significant progress made by Belize in improving its AML/CFT regime and notes that Belize has established the legal and regulatory framework to meet its commitments in its agreed Action Plan regarding the strategic deficiencies that the CFATF had identified. Belize is therefore no longer subject to the CFATF ICRG monitoring process.

Belize enacts NINE pieces of Legislation, in response to the CFATF Public Statement

Through the printing of an historic Special Gazette the Government of Belize demonstrated its commitment to modernize its Anti Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) architecture in keeping with international standards to enact nine pieces of key legislation, six laws and three regulations.

In November 2013, the CFATF issued a Public Statement, encouraging greater compliance with AML/CFT standards and identified jurisdictions that have strategic deficiencies, such as Belize and Guyana.

The CFATF has been working with both Belize and Guyana, since 2011, on an Action Plan to address the deficiencies and welcomes this latest development in Belize.

Since the time of the issuance of the Public Statement and particularly in January 2014, Belize brought together technical capacity and political will, to approve different pieces of legislation and regulations, which represent a significant step in improving compliance with AML/CFT Standards.

Political will and involvement of different levels of Government and public sector agencies as well as the private sector, are a key elements in the reform process.

The CFATF congratulates Belize on this first step and encourages the jurisdiction to continue strengthening its AML/CFT Regime.

A Statement from the Government of Belize summarizing the provisions of the new legislation is available at this (link)
The CFATF still has to undertake a detailed analysis of the new legislation in order to assess to what extent they address the identified strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.

Belize Reaffirms Commitment and Redoubles Efforts

Belize recognizes the importance of vigilance in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing and is proud to have taken tremendous strides to strengthen its role in the international network.  This week, in a showing of strong political will, Government and Opposition came together to pass six pieces of legislation and three regulations designed to substantially enhance Belize’s AML/CFT regime and overall compliance with FATF Standards.

After the CFATF Plenary last May, Belize reaffirmed its commitment to the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing and redoubled its efforts to address strategic deficiencies and strengthen its national AML/CFT architecture.  Although Belize was able to report progress in implementing assessor recommendations, the progress was not sufficient.  Since then, national authorities introduced legislative measures, opened new avenues for national co-ordination, and engaged outreach to the various DNFBP sectors.

After consultation with key AML/CFT stakeholders, six pieces of legislation were passed by the Belize National Assembly and three key Regulations were enacted.  Legislative measures include comprehensive amendments to the Money Laundering and Terrorism (Prevention) Act (MLTPA).  These amendments seek to comply with recommendations made by CFATF Assessors in relation to FATF Recommendations 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22,24, 27, 31, 34, 38, and Special Recommendations I, II, III, VI, VII, VIII and IX.  Specific measures include but are not limited to:

  • strengthening customer due diligence, record keeping, compliance and reporting obligations for financial institutions
  • enhancing compliance with CFT obligations, particularly freezing and confiscating terrorist assets, expedited implementation of targeted financial sanctions by the UN Security Council, clarifying listing and de-listing procedures and including NPOs in the AML/CFT supervisory regime
  • establishing the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee as a statutory body to advise the Minister of Finance and co-ordinate national AML/CFT efforts
  • strengthening and clarifying the sanctions regime, including implementation of a comprehensive administrative penalty regime
  • extension of the AML/CFT framework to DNFBs.


Legislative measures were also taken to address deficiencies in Belize’s compliance with FATF Recommendations 35, 36, 38 and 40 and Special Recommendations I and V.  A new Mutual Legal Assistance and International Co-Operation Act has been enacted to facilitate the widest range of assistance to be given and received by Belize in investigations, prosecutions and judicial proceedings in relation to criminal matters, including the freezing, seizing and confiscation of proceeds and instrumentalities of crime and terrorist property.  This Act establishes a single competent authority for the receipt and processing of requests for mutual legal assistance and empowers the Attorney General and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to undertake international co-operation inquiries to and on behalf of foreign countries.

Other legislative measures include amendments to the Financial Intelligence Unit Act to strengthen operational independence, enhance security of tenure for the FIU Director and minimise opportunity for political interference.  The Domestic Banking and Financial Institutions Act was amended to specifically prohibit formation of and dealing with shell banks.  Amendments to the Insurance Act now require a fit and proper assessment for changes in management or shareholding of insurance companies and applications for associations of underwriters.  Likewise, shareholders or owners of international financial service providers are now subject to a fit and proper test by virtue of an amendment to the International Financial Services Commission (Licensing) Regulations.  The Companies Act was amended to ensure that information on the beneficial ownership of registered companies maintained in the Companies Register. New regulations have been made to more fully articulate the supervisory regime applicable to DNFBPs and to set out details regarding the constitution and procedures of the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee.  

All of this legislation was introduced to the National Assembly on 22 January and, in a demonstration of strong political will and co-operation, was given expedited consideration and passed by both houses of the legislature.  Each piece of legislation mentioned above took effect on 7 February 2014, when the primary legislation received assent from the Governor General, and was published in the Gazette on the same day.

In anticipation of the passage of these legislative measures, administrative structures were put in place to allow for expedited registration of DNFBPs and NPOs, which began immediately when the laws came into effect.  Educational outreach has already begun with the publication of FATF and FSRB best practice and guidance papers via direct email and links made available on the FIU website.  An informational brochure for NPOs and NGOs was prepared and distribution to the sector began as soon as the legislation took effect.

Belize understands that these accomplishments do not mark the completion of its efforts to enhance implementation of the FATF Standards.  Belize will remain actively committed to the continued improvement and implementation of a robust national AML/CFT regime

MER of Belize

Prime Contact of Belize

Director
Financial Intelligence Unit
4998 Coney Drive Plaza
Coney Drive
P.O. Box 2197
Belize City, Belize
Tel: +(501) 223-2729 / 223-0596
Emails: director@fiubelize.org / fiu.belize@fiubelize.org