The director general of Liberia’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Alex Cuffy, says the unit’s efforts to curb illicit financial flows (IFFs) are hampered by a lack of political will and unwillingness amongst other agencies to communicate and work with his unit.
Cuffy has also said that the majority of the country’s IFFs are facilitated by trade-based financial crime.
The FIU, supported by the African Development Bank and the World Bank, is an autonomous agency established in 2013 to identify, assess, and understand the risks of IFFs and apply a risk-based approach to prevention or mitigation.
But Cuffy says the FIU faces a major challenge due to limited political will to support its functions. The unit’s budget allocation was reduced from US$925,000 in 2017 to US$577,000 in 2018.
Trade-based financial crime
Cuffy says the characteristics of Liberia’s IFFs mirror pan-African statistics produced by former South African president Thabo Mbeki’s High-level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows.
It says trade-based financial crimes account for 65 per cent of all financial crimes. Tax evasion accounts for 30 per cent and corruption for 5 per cent. But Cuffy says that in Liberia, trade-based crimes are also mostly facilitated by corruption.
Cases prepared by the FIU have been sent to the Liberia Revenue Authority, the police, and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), as well as the Justice Ministry and the Central Bank.
But Cuffy is frustrated because the FIU has received no official information from those agencies on whether any of the cases have led or are leading to prosecution. “Our goal is to get financial crimes to court,” he said.
Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News