On 25 May 2022, the work of the MENAFATF 34th Plenary was concluded, which was held in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, under the chairmanship of His Excellency Dr. Jawhar Al-Nafisi – President of the MENAFATF, Chairman of the Kingdom of Morocco’s FIU, and His Excellency Dr. Mohamed El Amine El Dahabi – Vice President of the MENAFATF, Governor of the Central Bank of Mauritania. The meeting witnessed the attendance of heads of delegations, AML/CFT/CPF experts from member countries, in addition to experts from observer countries and international bodies concerned with AML/CFT/CPF, led by FATF, UN, IMF and Egmont Group.
The meeting was held in a hybrid form, in a virtual and in-person, where many AML/CFT experts from member countries and observers participated in the work of the plenary.
Within the framework of this gathering of experts, these meetings come as a real opportunity to strengthen and unify regional and international efforts led by the MENAFATF concerning anti-money laundering, combating terrorist financing and proliferation financing and to protect the economic, social and political systems in the region from the risks of such crimes. Several enhanced follow-up reports (“EFURs”) for a number of member countries and the efforts and actions taken by each country to address the shortcomings contained in their Mutual Evaluation Reports were discussed and adopted accordingly.
The plenary meeting also discussed areas of technical assistance and training of workshops and training programs on topics related to the MENAFATF's fields of work, in addition to the training programs and plans as well as webinars for 2022, plus other future projects. The plenary will also tackle some topics such as the existing joint works for some topics related to ML/TF of a regional nature, such as the typologies project that is currently being implemented regarding the abuse of NPOs in TF activities, exchanging experiences in this regard, developing solutions to deal therewith, as well as spreading awareness of the ML/TF risks.
Meetings on the margins of the MENAFATF Plenary Meeting
It is worth noting that the convened plenary meeting was precedented by several MENAFATF’s working groups meetings virtually during the period from 15 to 19 May 2022, which included the meeting of the MEWG, the meeting of the TATWG, the FIUs Forum, and the Risk Committee. The plenary meeting listened to these working groups’ reports to take the necessary actions and decisions with relation thereof.
Mutual Evaluation and Follow-up processes:
Over the course of two days, the plenary discussed several topics related to evaluation and follow-up processes, as Jordan’s 2nd EFUR was discussed and approved with a request to re-rate some TC rating, as well as Bahrain’s and Morocco’s 3rd EFUR with a TC re-rating request, in addition to UAE’s 2nd EFUR and Egypt’s 1st EFUR without TC re-rating requests. The report of each country clarified the efforts taken to address the shortcomings by implementing the recommended actions contained in MERs. The timetable for the follow-up process for the first round and the timetable for the follow-up process for the second round were also approved, in addition to discussing other working papers related to the work group’s work.
Technical Assistance and Typologies:
The meeting listened to a report on the progress of work in the typologies project concerning abuse of NPOs in TF activities and urged countries to participate effectively in the project by responding to the information request questionnaire and providing more information and case studies. On the technical assistance side, the plenary adopted the MENAFATF webinar and training plan, urging countries to host the events included therein, and urging observers to participate in their implementation. The plenary also heard an update on the technical assistance matrix and training, whereby it urged donors to meet those needs in addition to urging countries to continuously update the matrix wherever suitable.
The meeting was briefed on the most important aspects of the meeting of the 22nd FIU’s Forum, and commended the participation of member countries in the work of the forum and the participation of counterpart FIUs to exchange expertise and knowledge to the FIU’s member countries in this regard.
The Risk Committee held its 14th meeting on Tuesday, 17 May 2022, virtually, on the sidelines of the MENAFATF 34th plenary, where the meeting began with a review of the agenda items by the Chairman of the Committee after approving its content, whereby the meeting discussed number of important topics related to the understanding, identification and assessing risks. The meeting reviewed the report on the challenges facing member countries in ML/TF/PF risks and put forward recommendations that would address and confront these challenges. This is followed by a presentation on the technical assistance, training and awareness-raising programs presented in areas of risks during the current year, in cooperation and coordination with the MENAFATF’s TATWG.
As part of its activities for this year, the Risk Committee meeting created a “the panel on the evaluation of R.1 and IO.1” and invited regional and international experts to speak and discuss related issues, in addition to making presentations in the various areas of risk by the member countries of the MENAFATF, donors and relevant organizations.