A first sub-regional workshop on “Transparency, beneficial owner and de-risking, was held between 25 and 27 April, in Guatemala City, encompassing North America, Central America and Caribbean sub-regions. The GAFILAT-EU Project provided financial support for the participation of three experts from seven countries (Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, and Panama). However, the invitation was open to the full GAFILAT membership, with participants assisting from to other countries (Bolivia and Ecuador) and three more self-funded participants from the Dominican Republic. The event was organized jointly with the Banking Supervision Authority of Guatemala (SIB).
The event, attended by 70 participants, represented an important opportunity to exchange experiences between countries regarding transparency, beneficial ownership and in order to analyze de-risking measures.
Technical specialists from IVE-SIB (the Guatemalan Financial Intelligence Unit – FIU), GAFILAT Executive Secretariat, the Banking Association, and the Council of Notaries of Spain also participated in the workshop, as well as representatives from FIUs, regulators, law-enforcement agencies, registries and the private sector.
The first day of the workshop was dedicated to discussing International Standards, a presentation on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Guidance document on Transparency and Beneficial Ownership and an exchange of ideas regarding the role of the private sector in the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as the importance of identifying the Beneficial Owner. Experiences and challenges in the implementation of beneficial ownership obligations were exchanged between the financial and the notaries sectors.
In addition, the de-risking phenomenon was discussed by informing the actions of both the FATF and GAFILAT on the issue, and by presenting the FATF guidance documents on Risk-Based Approach to correspondent banking and transfer of funds and securities.
During the second day, a closed-door session took place for the operational discussions regarding beneficial ownership, by hearing the experiences of relevant authorities on how they access information on beneficial ownership, based on availability, accessibility and timeliness, as well as update and veracity. A presentation was heard on the role of gatekeepers, notaries and other professional intermediaries in the identification of the beneficial owner, and the Guatemalan authorities shared effective-supervision tools.
The third day was aimed at the public authorities, with the countries having the opportunity to share their experiences in the matter thus defining the barriers and challenges they face in the identification of beneficial owners and update of their information. The practical and legal barriers of obtaining information through international cooperation channels were also addressed.