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TTSEC, FIU join forces against money laundering

Published: 
Monday, June 9, 2014
Prof Patrick Watson, right, signs the official memorandum of understanding for co-operation and exchange of information with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). Looking on are FIU director Susan Francois and Jwala Rambarran, governor of the Central Bank.

The three regulators in the financial sector, the T&T Securities and Exchange Commission (TTSEC), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Central Bank have formalised an agreement on co-operation and information sharing. The aim is for greater co-ordination and co-operation to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of persons suspected of money laundering and terrorist financing as well as related criminal activity.

 

Issues which gave rise to the agreement included the absence of a formalised process for sharing information; the appearance of arbitrary and unauthorised requests for information; and concern surrounding confidential information and resulting liability. 

 

 

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) sets forth a statement of intent to establish a framework for exchange of information relating to their respective functions and duties. It is anticipated that co-operation will be achieved primarily through written requests, ongoing consultations, periodic meetings, training events and other practical arrangements.

 

At the formal signing of the agreement, TTSEC chairman Prof Patrick Watson said “the responsibility of the Commission to consult, co-operate with, provide information to the Financial Intelligence Unit arises from the co-operative functions pursuant to Section 19 of the SA 2012.” He added, “the circle is now complete since the three main regulators in the financial services sector now have formal agreements with each other and can therefore maximise all efforts to protect the financial consumers.”

 

Pursuant to Regulation 22 of the FIU regulations, the FIU may share or request financial information from agencies, authorities, and persons when co-operating and liaising pursuant to Section 16 of the FIUTTA. Director of the FIU, Susan Francois, said: “Co-operation and information exchange on the basis of reciprocity are critical building blocks in the foundation of effective supervision. 

 

The signing of these MOUs, therefore, is an acknowledgement of the significance of maintaining and improving regulator to regulator communication and will ultimately improve across the board, exchange of information, thereby enhancing regulatory oversight of all supervised entities in Trinidad and Tobago.” In his remarks, the Governor of the Central Bank, Jwala Rambarran underscored that this “collaboration will develop a regulatory framework that offers protection, consistency and stability.”

 

“This alliance will certainly contribute to the detection and suppression of money laundering and terrorism financing activities in our economy and help to facilitate the provision of information to relevant authorities which are charged with the power to initiate legal action against those involved in criminal activities. This is an area in which we need to urgently strengthen our capabilities.”

 

This is the fifth agreement the TTSEC has signed and formalised since 2013 . In June 2013, the TTSEC became a full signatory to the IOSCO Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MMoU) Concerning Consultation and Cooperation and the Exchange of Information and on January 6, 2014, a MoU with the Central Bank was formalised. 

 

Both agreements represent a common understanding by the two authorities about how they will consult, co-operate, and exchange information for regulatory enforcement purposes. On January 8, a protocol was signed between the TTSEC and the Securities Dealers Association of T&T (SDATT) and on April 9, an agreement for the exchange of information and co-operation and consultation with the Caribbean Group of Securities Regulators (CGSR) came into force.

 

 

The latter agreement aims to facilitate mutual co-operation in the conduct of the regulatory and supervisory functions under the relevant securities laws, regulations and rules in the respective jurisdictions.