NEWS.MC asked Monaco’s Minister of Finance and Economy about the Principality’s response to the recent report from the Council of Europe’s Moneyval body, which criticised Monaco’s progress so far in fighting money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.
How is Monaco preparing for the next Moneyval inspection and how is the process different from how it was before the last report?
Jean Castellini: In view of the evaluation, Monaco had anticipated a significant number of actions to be to carry out, but they could not in part be applied within the deadlines requested by the initial schedule, in particular due to the Covid crisis. In their recent report on Monaco, the evaluators in fact drew attention to: – the importance of better targeting AML/CFT (anti-money laundering and the combat against the financing of terrorism) supervision of the private sector based on the risk-based approach, and to continue efforts in terms of sanctions administration; – the interest in further exploiting financial information to increase the number of money laundering investigations, prosecutions and convictions capital; – the essential alignment of practices regarding the confiscation of assets or proceeds of offenses with those taken in terms of seizure. The report, however, recognizes “the considerable work undertaken by Monaco in identification of money laundering and terrorist financing risks”, and the ability of the Monegasque Financial Intelligence Unit (SICCFIN) “to produce high quality analyses”. Where the previous report was mainly responsible for assessing the compliance of the devices in the fight against money laundering, the report published last January also endeavors to assess the effectiveness of the application of these standards.
How important is it for Monaco to avoid being on the grey list and how can this be avoided?
Jean Castellini: The Principality of Monaco therefore has 12 months to deploy the actions recommended. It will have to submit its follow-up report in March 2024. This monitoring involves further strengthening the existing AML/CFT system in order to increase its effectiveness and to comply with the recommendations resulting from the evaluation report. Setting implementation of the recommendations requires the strong mobilization of many Departments administrative bodies, State Departments and Services, in coordination with the private sector. The organization set up today is based on a “task-force” which acts in project, with a clear distribution of tasks and a precise timetable. The strategy translates through close operational coordination at the national level, combined with a plan of actions specific to each Department, Directorate or Service concerned. These plans now already established are being implemented. The Principality’s strategy is supervised at the highest level of the Prince’s Government. The National Strategy Coordination and Monitoring Committee is chaired by of the Minister of State. This committee benefits from the assistance of international consultants and experts. Operational management and implementation of the recommendations of the Moneyval report will be provided by the Government Counselor – Minister of Economy and Finance. Everything is therefore in place to carry out this essential project for the Principality. Of the additional resources and skills are mobilized, the dynamic is engaged, the motivation of the teams is strong, and everyone will ensure that the objectives are achieved within the prescribed deadlines.
Moneyval seems to be interested in controlling many aspects of the life in Monaco, including payments in high-end stores and the Casino. How can Monaco satisfy Moneyval in this regard?
Jean Castellini: In these areas as in others, it is the quality and compliance with the procedures in place, as well as detailed knowledge of customers and their habits (by establishing a risk-based approach) which will make it possible to meet the requirements of the evaluators and the Principality’s international commitments.
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PHOTO: Minister of Finance and Economy Jean Castellini