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.