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Pacific financial intelligence units unite to combat financial crime

Monday 20 November 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Economy, National


Pacific financial intelligence units unite to combat  financial crime
The annual Pacific Financial Intelligence community (PFIC) Plenary was held at The Edgewater Resort last week. PFIC/23111710

The Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) from the Pacific convened in Rarotonga last week to bolster regional partnerships in the fight against serious financial crimes.

The conference provided a valuable opportunity for FIUs to further explore initiatives to fight financial crime, including joint operations, capacity building activities and region-wide technological enhancements.

The second in-person plenary of the annual Pacific Financial Intelligence community (PFIC), was held over three days and closed on Friday, at The Edgewater Resort.

PFIC was co-hosted by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), and the Cook Islands Financial Intelligence Unit (CIFIU).

Walter Henry, head of Cook Islands FIU and the co-chair of the PFIC, has agreed to stay on in the position for another year.

Henry said the development of a Regional National Risk Assessment was requested at the table – to have a regional model that can apply to all in the Pacific.

He expressed that this is an area that the members can focus on, as it is both fit for purpose for all Pacific Island countries and has been endorsed by the governing body.

Members confirmed the effectiveness of the PFIC as a network of aligned partners and noted their intention to move ahead together as partners through the signing of the “PFIC Collaboration and Information Sharing: Statement of Intent”.

They also agreed with the programme of work and focus areas, which are noted in the “Rarotonga Statement”, identifying initiatives the members will explore to combat financial crime.

Strategic initiatives include looking to formalising strategic partnerships with other regional multilateral bodies such as the Pacific Islands Chief of Police, Asia Pacific group on money laundering and Pacific Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Supervisors Forum. This will allow them to seek out opportunities to partner with other non-PFIC member financial intelligence units that hold substantial Pacific interests, and to establish a risk assessment methodology and framework.

Collaborative initiatives involve the sharing of information and joint analysis proactively through multilateral intelligence projects, as well as to encourage information sharing between PFIC members by sharing of lists of persons of interest, and to explore partnerships with other members in the wider anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing community.

AUSTRAC has provided the Cook Islands FIU with Taipan, a new data analytics system that financial intelligence analysts can use to detect suspicious financial patterns related to criminal activities.

The Capacity Building and Research initiatives include the continuation of rolling out Taipan to all PFIC members (not including Australia and NZ) and create a community of practice through the Taipan User Group.

The focus areas for PFIC next year will comprise of Transnational Serious Organised Crime (OMCGs) and Narcotics Trafficking, Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (CSAE), corruption and politically exposed persons.

Twenty-seven delegates attended the plenary at The Edgewater Resort, including the PFIC co-chair Dr John Moss, who is the AUSTRAC deputy CEO.

In attendance at the PFIC plenary were representatives from the FIUs of Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.

The next plenary will be held in Australia.