On May 29, 2019 the 13th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Financial Intelligence Units of the CIS-member countries chaired by Rosfinmonitoring Director Mr. Yuri Chikhanchin was held in Moscow.
In the course of the meeting, the heads and experts of the financial intelligence units discussed the areas of cooperation related to joint AML/CFT operations conducted in the CIS region, and also considered the issues pertaining to assessment and mitigation of ML/TF risks. Taking part in the meeting were Director of the Department for Security Cooperation and Countering New Challenges and Threats of the CIS Executive Committee Mr. Albert Druzhinin, and the delegation of the Collective Security Treaty Organization headed by CSTO General Secretary Mr. Valery Semerikov.
In his speech, Yuri Chikhanchin pointed out that each CHFIU meeting proves the correctness and reasonableness of the adopted policy aimed at consolidating the AML/CFT efforts of the CIS countries.
“The Council conducts the ongoing Milky Way operation that involves analysis of cross-border ML/TF risks and identification of foreign shadow structures that facilitate movement, redistribution and laundering of proceeds of various types of illegal activities. The CIS countries face the common ML risks: in most cases, proceeds obtained through domestic crime are moved to foreign jurisdictions that have the established money laundering infrastructure and provide a wide range of the relevant services. At present, the CIS financial intelligence units witness a global shift of dubious cross-border financial flows – new centers that attract ill-gotten money are emerging in Asia and Easter Europe”, said the Director of the Russian FIU.
In the course of the aforementioned operation, the FIUs share the intelligence concerning foreign “technical” companies, registrars, intermediate lawyers, account agents, addresses at which multiple entities involved in illegal schemes are registered, and foreign banks into which suspicious funds are transferred.
The ongoing Barrier operation, launched by the resolution passed by the Council in 2015, is aimed at identifying persons whose activities may be related to terrorist financing. Today, five countries participate in this operation, namely: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The 13th CHFIU meeting summarized the results achieved in the fourth quarter of 2018 and in the first quarter of 2019. The joint efforts resulted in identification of about 100 citizens of the countries participating in the operation, whose activities potentially related to TF, and also over 150 of their counterparties in different countries, including Turkey and Afghanistan. Besides that, the competent authorities detected financial transactions carried out by over 200 individuals, whose ID data fully or partially matched the ID data of persons who were put on the CIS inter-state wanted list for committing terrorism and extremism-related offences.
At the same time, the participants closely monitor the dynamically changing operational environment. Following the military operations conducted by the Russian Aerospace Forces in the conflict zones, we monitor, jointly with the law enforcement agencies, the migrant flows, including movement of persons linked to terrorism. In this context, it is planned to extend the scope of the Barrier operation by including in it, inter alia, the migrant screening component.
Exchange of information among the financial intelligence units is one of the key elements of the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. Searching illegal assets, sending of and responding to information requests, sharing information on persons who are subject to criminal investigations – all this requires stable and secure information exchange channels. In October 2010, the heads of the CIS-member states signed the AML/CFT Cooperation Concept, which enabled to establish the system for sharing information among the competent authorities of the CIS-member countries.
In 2018, the 10th CHFIU meeting adopted the procedure of establishment of the Information Exchange System for interconnecting the financial intelligence units of the countries represented in the Council. In 2018, the communication nodes were built in Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan which would expedite the information exchange among the FIUs of our countries. Tajikistan, Armenia, Uzbekistan and Belarus will be connected to the System soon. It is expected that the system will become fully operational in 2020.
Since November 2018, the basic AML/CFT educational and training center of the CIS-member countries (the International Training and Methodology Center for Financial Monitoring) held over 46 events involving sharing of best practices and experience and training and professional development training of the staff of the national AML/CFT systems of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In the reporting period, over 1800 specialists (including the officers of the FIUs, law enforcement and supervisory authorities, representatives of the private sector of the CIS-member countries, and the academic staff of the INI-member universities) received training and took part in various roundtables.
Besides that, the Protocol of Cooperation with the Collective Security Treaty Organization was signed pursuant to the resolution passed by the Council on May 29, 2019.
The Council of Heads of Financial Intelligence Units (CHFIU) was established on December 5, 2012 for coordinating cooperation in the area concerned.
The members of the Council include: Republic of Armenia, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russian Federation, Republic of Tajikistan, Republic of Uzbekistan and Ukraine.