Gentle Reminder

Get anti-money laundering legislation off the ground soon to block terrorist financing and improve Sri Lankas image internationally, warns the United States.
Successive Sri Lankan governments have been working with the IMF to develop legislation to block money laundering activity for some years now.rn

rnAddressing a seminar on anti-money laundering organized by the US Embassy and the Central Bank, the US Ambassador reminded the Sri Lankan government to get the legislation off the ground.rn

rn”We encourage your continued efforts finalise this important legislation,” said U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey J Lunstead on Thursday, adding that “the government is already off to a good start.”rn

rnThe US is pushing for anti-money laundering laws in countries around the world, to block money laundering networks as part of its war against terrorism.rn

rnMoney laundering is the process by which the gains of illegal activity are concealed, and the cash is made to appear to have a legal source. rn

rnTerrorists and organised criminal groups exploit weaknesses in financial systems to legitimise and clean such illegal or dirty money. rn

rnIn the United States, money laundering regulations are focused on preventing criminals from getting their illicit money into the financial system. rn

rn”We have both mandatory reporting of large cash transactions and also Suspicious Activity Reports of financial transactions,” said Lunstead. rn

rnWith the US closing access route to its banks the dirty money is now being transported physically to neighboring countries.rn

rnThe first money laundering laws targeted the drug trade. rn

rnIn recent times, most international organisations and countries have recognised the need to expand money-laundering laws to cover all serious crimes.rn

rnMoney laundering laws cover all financial institutions, not only banks but also bureaus de change, money transmitters, casinos, insurance, and securities companies. rn

rnInternational standards also encourage new laws to cover moneys paid to solicitors and accountants, who have in the past been used as intermediaries in money laundering schemes. rn

rnFinally, in most anti-money laundering laws, non-financial businesses, such as automobile dealers and other sellers of high value goods, are required to file reports of suspicious transactions.rn

rnThe Ambassador stressed that “once new laws are enacted, the government must ensure that adequate resources are given to all regulatory, law enforcement, and prosecution agencies to implement the law.”rn

rnHe added that Sri Lanka could include the physical transportation of cash and negotiable instruments across its borders under the same legislation. rn

rn”We have had such a law in place in the US since 1970: It is not illegal to bring cash in or out of the U.S., but it must be reported,” said Lunstead.rn

rnThe US points out that any perception of weak anti-money laundering laws could inhibit the development of Colombo as a regional financial center.rn

rn”If Sri Lanka is perceived as having weak anti-money laundering procedures, criminal funds could find their way into the Sri Lankan financial system,” said Lunstead.rn

rn”This could inhibit the development of Colombo as a Regional Financial Center.” rn

rnHe points out that although Sri Lanka, has no large drug-trafficking or organised criminal groups money laundering facilitates all other types of crime as well.rn

rnThis is because it allows criminals the ability to enjoy the proceeds of their crimes and gives them resources to expand their criminal activities.rn

rnCurrently, all international banks operating in Sri Lanka already have the required systems in place to detect suspicious cash inflows.rn

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-LBO Newsdesk: LBOEmail@vanguardlanka.comrn