Jul 29, 2017 News
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) through the Ministry of Finance has acquired the iBase Software, a product developed by International Business Machines (IBM). The equipment was acquired by the Ministry of
Finance at a cost of US$150,000 ($30M).
To use the software, specific persons will benefit from a three-month training stint sponsored by the United States government.
The partnership was solidified yesterday at a ceremony held in the conference room of the Ministry of Finance. Present were Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan; Director of the FIU, Matthew Langevine; U.S Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway; and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S Embassy, Terry Steers-Gonzalez.
The Minister said that his government is pleased to accept the financial assistance from the U.S government to support the work of the FIU and further strengthen Guyana’s anti-money laundering regime.
He said that the scale of money laundering and terrorist financing has risen globally, resulting in increased prudential, macro-economic and national security risks in countries where the illicit activities are prevalent.
According to Jordan, in Guyana, the recently concluded money laundering and terrorist financing national risk assessment identified a number of core sectors that pose severe money laundering and terrorist financing risks to the country.
He added that the National Risk- based Action Plan, which emanated from the findings of the National Risk Assessment, will guide policymakers in their attempts to implement combating measures, commensurate with the level of risk identified.
The Minister said that there is no doubt that the use of advanced technology has aided in the detection of money laundering activities, that would have allowed prosecutorial and countervailing measures to be implemented.
Despite this, Jordan said, “Money launderers are becoming more sophisticated, which places ever increasing demands on the authorities to deploy new and appropriate techniques to enhance the country’s ability to detect and prevent these illicit activities.”
The Minister said that the acquisition of the IBase Software that was developed by IBM will allow the FIU to easily map and import data and information, from both structured and unstructured sources into the centralised repository.
“Also, it would help to hasten the pace at which data and information are analysed, connections are found, and actionable results are generated. At the same time, it would facilitate comprehensive searches for intelligence in records; run complex queries on data; and offer security-rich data access capabilities that will improve data security, integrity and access.”
Jordan said that the acquisition of the software and the assistance from the U.S. government is timely and indicates Guyana’s inability to meet such costs. He said that already, Guyana is suffering from the effects of de-risking by several U.S. based banks and henceforth the gesture extended by the U.S is comforting.
Meanwhile, the FIU director said that the primary role of the agency is to request and receive information or data from financial and non-financial entities and in some cases individuals.
He said that after the information is gathered, it is analysed and the complete analyses is shared in the form of intelligence reports with an opinion of whether the subject or subjects ought to be investigated for money laundering.
“These reports usually go to law enforcement agencies. In Guyana, that agency as you all know is the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).”
He said that the FIU receives data or intelligence from a wide range of reporting entities as prescribed by the Anti-Money Laundering Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT)
“These include banks and non-bank financial institutions, cambios, money transfer agencies, insurance companies, licensed gold dealers, dealers in precious and semi-precious stones, security companies, betting shops, pawn brokers, used car dealers and house agents. Also includes casinos, lotteries, cooperative unions, friendly societies, non-profit organisations amongst others.”
He further said that the extensive list demonstrates the quantum of data that is received by the FIU. According to Langevine, organising and getting value out of that information received is difficult given the limited resources available.
He said that the situation is worsened with the very basic level of technology and software available to FIU analysts to consolidate information analytically.
“Intelligence reports therefore take lengthy periods to complete to a certain standard. Most FIUs across the world use advance software specially developed to perform data analysis.”
Ambassador Holloway delivering remarks said that the software is an intelligence database management application that enables teams of analysts to capture, control and analyse multi-source data from workgroup environments.
He said that next step in the process is for FIU analysts to begin using the most up-to-date technology to detect illegal financial activity, thereby putting Guyana on par with other financial analysts around the world.
He said that the training and support will be provided by the U.S government.
Training for persons that will be required to use the software is expected to commence as early as September, according to Langevine. This process should last three months.
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