At an inaugural Ministerial Meeting held in Manama, Bahrain on the 30th of November 2004, the Governments of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen decided to establish a Financial Action Task Force Style Regional Body (FSRB) for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The body, to be known as the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (“MENAFATF”) will be headquartered in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
H.E Abdulla Saif, the Minister of Finance and National Economy who hosted the meeting stated that: “This is a historic day for the MENA region as it shows the world that we are serious about fighting the twin evils of money laundering and terrorist financing. It is especially important for Bahrain to have been chosen to host the Secretariat, as it is a vote of confidence in our financial markets management and our regulatory competences and our ability to combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.
” The MENAFATF has agreed on the following objectives and will work towards achieving them:
- To build effective arrangements throughout the region to combat effectively money laundering and terrorist financing in accordance with the particular cultural values, constitutional framework and legal systems in the member countries;
- To adopt and implement the 40 Recommendations of the FATF against money laundering;
- To adopt and implement the Special Recommendations of the FATF against terrorist financing;
- To implement the relevant UN treaties and agreements and United Nations Security Council Resolutions dealing with countering money laundering and terrorist financing;
- To co-operate together to raise compliance with these standards and measures within the MENA Region and to work with other international organizations to raise compliance worldwide; and
- To work together to identify money laundering and terrorist financing issues of a regional nature, to share experiences of these problems and to develop regional solutions for dealing with them.
The members have chosen Dr. Muhammad Baasiri of the Lebanon and Mr.Mahmoud Abdel Latif of Egypt to act as the initial President and Vice President respectively. Both countries were very pleased to have been chosen and have promised to use their twelve-month presidencies to promote the battle against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in the MENA region. Thereafter, the member countries will serve as President and Vice-President starting in Arabic alphabetical order with Jordan as Vice-President in 2006.
The members have chosen Mr. Adel Hamad Al Qulish of Saudi Arabia to act as the MENAFATF Executive Secretary for a four-year term. The first Plenary meeting of the MENAFATF will be held in Beirut before the end of March 2005.
The decision to create the MENAFATF was applauded by Mr. Jean-Louis Fort, President of the Paris based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), who attended the meeting together with representatives of France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Nations and the Egmont Group, who were all chosen to sit as observers to the MENAFATF.
Finally, the MENAFATF will apply to the February 2005 FATF Plenary for FATF observer status.