Honourable Minister of Finance, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila,
Other visiting Ministers,
Governor of the Bank of Namibia, Mr. Ipumbu Shiimi,
Other eminencies, dignitaries and fellow ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All Protocol observed,
Good morning, and may I extend a warm welcome to you all from the British High Commission to today’s inaugural G8 Public Private Sector Dialogue on anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism.
Echoing the words of UK Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds,, from the launch yesterday, I too would like to extend my thanks to the Namibian Government and the Bank of Namibia in particular, for their generosity and their support in hosting this event.
This dialogue brings some unique opportunities: A chance for discussion between the public and private sectors, amongst G8 and Sub-Saharan Africa. A chance to raise the political profile of anti money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism. And a chance to exchange technical knowledge on policy development and practical implementation.
G8 and AML/CFT
Over the last few years, these issues have grown in prominence with growing commitments from the G20 and the G8 alike to implementing the Financial Action Task Force standards. And this year’s Summit under the UK’s presidency broke new ground with commitments to lead by example in our implementation of the FATF standards. Commitments to produce Action Plans setting out the concrete steps we will take to implement transparency of beneficial ownership standards.
And a recognition that taking action on these issues is not just critical to tackling money laundering and terrorist finance, but that the benefits reach right across the sphere of illicit activity
- by helping to tackle tax evasion…
- by helping to tackle corruption and bribery…
And by helping law enforcement pursue criminal networks, identify and recover stolen assets, and effectively enforce sanctions.
Prime Minister David Cameron has put these issues at the very core of the UK’s Presidency of the G8 because they go to the very heart of safeguarding and improving our investment climate.
At a time of economic recovery, strained national purses, and heightened public awareness, it is absolutely right that we put these issues front and centre. With illicit activity costing the global economy as much as 5% of global GDP, the question is, can we afford to do nothing?
In the UK we have already committed to lead from the front on implementation of the FATF standards. We will conduct the UK National Risk Assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing risk over the next year. We will improve the supervision and enforcement of review of trust and company service providers. We are undertaking a review of corporate transparency, including through bearer shares and nominee directors.
And whit a commitment that some NGOs have called the “crown jewel” of the G8 agenda, we are committed to leading from the front on implementing the standards on beneficial ownership transparency.
The UK Department for Business has already issued a discussion paper detailing our plans, which include:
- To require companies to obtain and hold information on their beneficial owners…
- To hold this information in a central registry for tax authorities and law enforcement to access….
- And we are consulting on whether that registry should be made publicly available.
We are committed to implementing these measures in the year ahead, but we know the story doesn’t stop there. We have secured commitments from the UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to produce their own Action Plans and lead from the front in implementing those same standards.
We continue to carry that same ambition to the G20 and the European Union to sustain the momentum of the G8 and ensure that we move as one on this agenda. And of course, we continue to work closely with the FATF itself to share our experiences and our lessons learned to develop a common understanding of best practice.
As Minister Simmonds said yesterday, this is a global problem that requires a global solution. It is in all our interests to work together, to share our experiences, to ensure that we effectively tackle, not simply displace, illicit activity. Now, this brings me to my favourite topic: The UK in Namibia: what the UK is doing to assist in Namibia and bolster beneficial cooperation.
I am happy to report that here in Namibia, the UK and the Namibian Government have first hand experience of the potential benefits of global coordination and cooperation.
Last year, the British High Commission and the Serious Organised Crime Agency supported three experts from the Bank of Namibia to participate in a UK hosted Anti-Money Laundering Conference in London and to visit key financial institutions and experts in this priority area.
The networking opportunities that this entailed have served to significantly strengthen the relationship and exchange of information between our Financial Intelligence Units…
- And this has already brought results on the ground through closer cooperation between the Ministry of Finance and law enforcement agencies…
- A greater focus on tackling tax evasion…
- A stronger risk based approach to suspicious activity reports…
- Catalysing initial discussions on a memorandum of understanding with the Serious Organised Crime Unit.
- And helping to generate an additional two million Namibian dollars for the State.
A round of applause for the Bank of Namibia, please.
In the same spirit, the UK Department for Internal Development established and funded the FinMark Trust, based in South Africa, which has since been a driving force in the debate on financial inclusion across the region, including undertaking a series of national financial access surveys in Namibia, working closely with the banking sector here.
Now these are tangible, real world benefits of international cooperation and exchange, that the inaugural Public-Private Sector Dialogue has every prospect of replicating.
Public-Private Sector Dialogue
Coming on the back of the ESAAMLG meetings this week, the Dialogue is the perfect opportunity to forge new relations between the region and the G8, and in particular between public and private sectors.
Put very simply, whether looking at the UK, Namibia, or Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, our national prosperity is tied to the fate of our private sectors, our businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators.
And our ability to implement effective anti money laundering and combatting financing of terrorism regimes depends on the ability and capacity of our private sectors, the gatekeepers to the economy, to effectively implement such requirements.
Ladies and gentlemen, prosperity and integrity depend on effective Dialogue and exchange of ideas and experience between both public and private sectors.
In the UK we are working closely with the private sector
- through our National Risk Assessment…
- Through our implementation on beneficial ownership transparency…
- And through our risk based approach to our national money laundering regulations…
Whilst we are richer for the expertise of our private sector, we are stronger for the effectiveness of the requirements we place on them. The Public-Private Sector Dialogue is a unique forum to develop that shared understanding, and forge national consensus on effective anti money laundering and combatting finance of terrorism regimes.
But, as a G8 initiative, it is also much more than that. The Dialogue is an unparalleled chance to pursue international opportunities. A chance to understand expectations and requirements to forge correspondent banking relationships. A chance to explore the possibilities and potential of access to international financial markets. And a chance to forge new relationships with global institutions and some of the fastest growing markets in the world.
I am delighted that we have such wide geographic and sector presence at this inaugural Dialogue with representatives from public and private institutions from across the region, the UK, the US, Russia, France and from the banking, telecoms, consultancy and money service business sectors.
I encourage you all to seize this opportunity and encourage enthusiastic, open and honest contributions from panellists and the audience.
This is after all a Dialogue…not a conference, not a seminar, not a convention. Its success depends squarely on active participation and challenging discussion. And, as the G8 has committed, depending on the success of this inaugural Dialogue, the G8 will consider extending the Dialogue on an annual basis and to wider regions.
In that spirit, I wish you all the very best for the rest for what promises to be a fruitful and rewarding Dialogue.