What is a National Risk Assessment?
A National Risk Assessment (NRA) identifies the money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF) risks that are of priority concern to a country. ML is a necessary consequence of almost all profit generating crimes and is a global problem.
It is a comprehensive exercise to assist in identifying, assessing and understanding a country’s ML and TF threats (i.e. (the predicate crimes associated with ML), vulnerabilities (i.e. (the opportunities that facilitate ML) and the consequential risks with a view to mitigate illicit financial flows and transactions.
The NRA process requires an identification of the country’s criminal activities that generate the most proceeds, an assessment of the vulnerability of the financial and private sectors to ML, ascertaining the controls and weaknesses of the criminal justice system, determining the effectiveness of the anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) preventative measures and allocating resources based on the level of risks, among others.
How does the NRA affect me?
For Belize’s 1st NRA to be successful, the jurisdiction must ensure that it has identified all the risks it is exposed to. In this regard, NRA questionnaires will be issued to several businesses and organizations with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the activities they carry out and the potential ML and/ or TF risks that accompany these activities.
Interviews and focus group meetings will also be conducted by the relevant AML/CFT Supervisory Authorities in collaboration with the National Coordinating Committee (NCC).
Why does Belize need to conduct an NRA?
ML can undermine the integrity, reliability and stability of the Belizean financial and economic structure. It is a global problem.
The purpose of the NRA is to help the public and private sectors recognize and understand the ML methods used in Belize, the effectiveness of current efforts to address the threats and vulnerabilities that create ML opportunities, and the residual risk to the financial system and national security.
It also evaluates whether Belize’s current laws are adequate and are sufficiently addressing existing and new threats and whether the country is applying a risk based approach to supervision and enforcement.
The NRA will assist in identifying which sectors and business activities are at higher risk to ML threats and assisting in prioritizing how resources are to be allocated to apply mitigating steps to minimize the ML/TF risks posed.
Who is conducting the NRA?
The NRA project is led by the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee (NAMLC) and is being coordinated by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). NAMLC is charged with ensuring oversight and coordination of a national action plan to ensure coordination among key local stakeholders. The members of the NAMLC committee include the: FIU, Solicitor General, Financial Secretary, Commissioner of Police, Central Bank of Belize (Central Bank), Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Customs, Immigration and the Supervisor of Insurance and Private Pensions (OSIPP).
The World Bank tool will be used to conduct the NRA exercise and Belize has already completed its first 3-day NRA Workshop in December 2016.
The project is divided into six working groups and involves inter-agency collaboration of Government Agencies, law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, Attorney General’s Office, Director of Public Prosecutions, other AML/CFT Supervisory Authorities – Central Bank, International Financial Services Commission (IFSC), OSIPP and the Ministry of Finance.
Input from the private sector is also required to assist with the NRA exercise as combating ML/FT requires a collaborative national response.
Why do we need your help?
In preparation for Belize’s 4th Round Mutual Evaluation by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) in 2021, Belize must undertake its first ever NRA in an effort to comply with mandatory international requirements, as set out in FATF Recommendation 1.
The NRA is a key prerequisite to set the foundation for further strengthening of the Belizean AML/CFT regime and help prevent the country from being “grey” or “black” listed as a non-cooperative jurisdiction by the FATF.
Who is required to assist in the NRA exercise?
- Government Agencies
- Banking, Securities & Insurance sectors
- Other Financial Institutions: Credit Unions, Money Value Transfer Services, Moneylenders, etc.
- Designated Non-Financial Businesses & Professionals: Lawyers, notaries and independent legal professionals, Accountants, auditors and tax advisors, Real Estate Agents, NPOs and NGOs, Vehicle Dealers, Businesses operating in a Free Zone area, Casinos and Gaming Houses and Trust and Company Service Providers, etc.
How will the information be collected?
- Mandatory Questionnaires
- Focus group meetings
How is my information going to be used?
Data submitted by persons and entities will be consolidated and will not reflect individual views. All information and data submitted will be confidential, privileged and intended solely for the use of the NRA process
How long is the NRA process?
The initial NRA is a year-long project and is expected to produce an NRA report by 2018. It should be noted, the NRA is an on-going process and will be conducted every 3-5 years.
The NRA will assist the Belizean Authorities to:
- Understand the main sources/ trigger points and methods of ML in Belize;
- Identify & better understand of the vulnerabilities and risks for ML/TF across various sectors
- Evaluate weaknesses in the institutional systems for dealing with ML & TF
- Develop effective risk based policies and actions
- Build public sector capacity
- December 2016: 1st NRA Workshop with World Bank
- January – June 2017: Issue questionnaires & conduct surveys, interviews and focus group meetings.