The challenges in Anti Money laundering/ combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) are faced by global financial institutions recently. Certain global financial institutions faced issues such as violation of US anti-money laundering laws. This is the latest challenge faced by the global financial industry in addition to the Libor rigging issue and the global financial instituions are also working on various measures. It is time we review the Anti- Money laundering scenario prevailing in the GCC.GCC has some very specific financial transaction not prevalent in western developed countries. It is important to understand and integrate them in mainstream financial system with adequate controls. Implementation of Financial Action Task force on Money laundering (FATF) recommendations can only be effective if concepts are applied to local environment. MENA FATF has duly recognized that and has made a good beginning.
The working group had suggested various measures to make financial transactions through above modes FATF compliant. Post Sep 11, 2001 many concrete steps have been taken in Qatar. A law promulgated in Sep, 2002 (Law number 28 of year 2002). Decree No. 21 in November, 2003 – (Subsequent to review of implementation, further refinement to some provisions of Law no. 22). Law no 3 in 2004 promulgated in Feb 2004 for combating financing of terrorism. The law is very comprehensive includes authority, committees, regulation, monitoring and imposing sanctions.
Qatar is a participant to most of the international forums such as UN Convention against Illicit trafficking of drug and Psychotropic substances – 1988, Arab convention for CTF – 1998, UN Convention on suppression of International terrorism – 1999, FATF (Financial Action Task Force) and CTF through GCC Sectt, MENA FATF in 2005 .Qatar Financial Information Unit (FIU) established in October 2004.QCB takes a proactive and leading role in entire gamut of AML & CTF measures. Guidelines issues in 1994, 1999 and 2005 – all have been consistent with international developments. It comprises detection, prevention and 40+9 recommendations of FATF.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had recently come with recommendations such as combating the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction through the consistent implementation of targeted financial sanctions when these are called for by the UN Security Council, improved transparency to make it harder for criminals and terrorists to conceal their identities or hide their assets behind legal persons and arrangements, stronger requirements when dealing with politically exposed persons (PEPs), expanding the scope of money laundering predicate offences by including tax crimes, an enhanced risk-based approach which enables countries and the private sector to apply their resources more efficiently by focusing on higher risk areas, more effective international cooperation including exchange of information between relevant authorities, conduct of joint investigations, and tracing, freezing and confiscation of illegal assets and better operational tools and a wider range of techniques and powers, both for the financial intelligence units, and for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute money laundering and terrorist financing.
All banks in Qatar are required to install a proper monitoring system and appoint a qualified AML officer responsible for: Polices & Procedures Know your customer (KYC), suspicious transactions (reporting & record keeping) and Staff awareness of AML regulations.
The competent AML/CFT Division of QCB, including its Units, carries out tasks such as following-up and studying international best practices and codes on AML/CFT to keep pace with, in addition to track domestic and global developments in AML/CFT, following-up of issues that require a joint cooperation between all authorities and regulators with regard to AML/CFT, coordinating all official correspondence and communication between the Central Bank and the National Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Committee, conducting an ongoing off-site surveillance and on-site inspection of all financial institutions regulated and controlled by the Qatar Central Bank to follow-up on all issues relating to AML/CFT with all financial institutions that are regulated and controlled by the Qatar Central Bank, assure that all financial institutions regulated and controlled by the Qatar Central Bank are in compliance with AML/CFT legal requirements, regulations and guidance issued by the Qatar Central Bank and all other relevant bodies, carry out all relevant AML/CFT resolutions and decisions issued by competent bodies and keep records of all AML/CFT matters. Qatar is in substantive compliance with AML/ CFT.