ABU DHABI, 10th March, 2023 (WAM) — Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Chairman of the Higher Committee Overseeing the National Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism, the Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (EO AML/CTF) hosted the 2023 annual MENAFATF Typologies and Capacity Building Workshop.
The three-day workshop in Abu Dhabi attracted over 100 participants from 21 countries that make up MENAFATF, observers and representatives from other FATF-Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs) and international organisations.
Established in 2004, MENAFATF is the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-Style Regional Body and is critical in coordinating the regional fight against financial crime.
The MENAFATF Typologies Workshop is hosted by a different MENAFATF member state each year. It is organised by the organisation’s Secretariat with assistance from the Technical Assistance and Typology Working Group (TATWG). It is a key date in the regional AML/CFT calendar and serves as a forum for national authorities to convene to discuss pressing issues impacting regional anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism efforts.
In his opening remarks, Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the EO AML/CTF, noted that effective regional coordination through MENAFATF has a significant impact on curtailing financial crime.
He explained, “The MENAFATF Typologies Workshop aims to facilitate the exchange of experience between regional partners and identify the main opportunities and threats to regional efforts in tackling financial crime. Undoubtedly, the large number of participants at this year’s workshop clearly indicates the importance of combating financial crime in the region. Only by working closely together we can improve our efforts and protect our economies.”
Suliman Al Jabrin, Executive Secretary of MENAFATF, said that exchanging information is vital in enabling countries to keep pace with financial criminals who deploy new tactics.
He commented, “Criminals innovate in their techniques and methods to find new ways to circumvent AML/CFT laws and operate at a fast pace. Understanding these techniques and analysing new trends, which is the main purpose of this workshop, is an effective manner of addressing the threats we jointly face. The MENAFATF Typologies Workshop brings together regional and international experts to share experiences and new challenges on this front.”
Liz Owen, AML/CFT and Financial Crime Analyst at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), delivered a presentation covering the importance of typology work in light of the risk-based approach set out in the FATF Standards and overviewing some of FATF’s recent typologies.
She emphasised the importance of a standardised approach, saying, “The foundation of the FATF Standards is a risk-based approach. This is why typologies work, and meetings such as this MENAFATF gathering are so important. This work helps us identify and understand the prominent money laundering and terrorist financing risks and methods regionally and globally. This understanding is essential to guide the rest of our work and ensure we focus on the most important risks.”
The MENAFATF Typologies Workshop covered various themes of regional and international importance. They included beneficial ownership, asset recovery (a priority for the current FATF Presidency), terrorism financing risks focusing on non-profit organisations, and ML/TF risks concerning new technologies and virtual assets. The workshop also covered recent money laundering risks and trends.
In addition to typologies, the workshop featured presentations on the UAE’s virtual assets and public-private partnership experiences.
Discussions and information sharing throughout the workshop are recorded and published in biennial typologies reports to raise awareness and educate authorities working to combat illicit financial flows.