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CIFIU takes leadership role

Saturday 16 March 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Local, National


CIFIU takes leadership role
From left: Cook Islands Financial Intelligence Unit’s (FIU) IT analyst Maru Willie with Kiribati Police Service detective senior constable and FIU analyst Melissa Ritebono, Kiribati detective sergeant Tekabwe Uriam, Marshall Islands Office of the Banking Commission FIU intelligence analyst Schuyler M. Wase, Cook Islands FIU’s June George and Fiji’s anticorruption consultant Avaneesh Raman after the training yesterday. 24031504

Cook Islands hosted an anti-money laundering/countering terrorism financing workshop for Kiribati and Marshall Islands to share knowledge and strengthen regional partnerships.

In a continued push towards the promotion of good governance and a corruption-free Pacific, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office is supporting anti-corruption activities in the Cook Islands.

This week, Cook Islands Financial Intelligence Unit (CIFIU) hosted participants from Kiribati and Marshall Islands sharing their knowledge and experience.

According to UNDP, the exchange with the Cook Islands FIU involved officials discussing the development of effective intelligence management products, enhancing processes and refining standard operating procedures, and the longer-term potential around the establishment of a mechanism to allow for intelligence exchanges between FIUs and their law enforcement counterparts.

Cook Islands FIU head Walter Henry says they are grateful to UNDP and in particular Avaneesh Raman for the initiative and support for the “Peer to Peer Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) AML/CFT Intelligence Management mentoring for RMI & Kiribati FIU: Learning from the CIFIU Experience”.

Henry said Raman is an established AML/CFT expert and his participation and leadership is a valuable source of knowledge to Cook Islands AML/CFT regime.

“Kiribati, Marshall Islands and New Zealand FIUs are members of the Pacific Financial Intelligence Community, mentorship project reinforces and enhances our professional network.”

Raman said the Cook Islands FIU is more developed in the Pacific region.

Raman said in the past Fiji usually trained Cook Islands but now Cook Islands FIU has taken more of a leadership responsibility.

He said last year Cook Islands FIU also hosted an attachment for Solomon Islands FIU officers.

“Cook Islands FIU structure has investigative powers, and that’s very similar to what the Kiribati FIU has. They are adding more value to the other FIUs or smaller FIUs in the region.”

Henry said Cook Islands has had similar issues in the space of financial crime as in Kiribati and Marshall Islands.

“There is sharing of knowledge and experience. There is a stronger sense of connection, partnership when you have face to face programmes.”

Raman said Kiribati is not a member of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, but Cook Islands and Marshall Islands, the other participants are.

He also said the Pacific Anti-Corruption Project which aims to strengthen implementation of anti-corruption measures at national, sub-regional and regional levels is currently in its third phase.

The participants including two Cook Islanders depart for more training in New Zealand today.

Henry said New Zealand’s FIU has always been a source of knowledge, experience and training for CIFIU.

The first head of Cook Islands FIU in December 2001 was Cath Kara, from New Zealand FIU.

“My first training and attachment as an intelligence analyst was with NZFIU 2003 and 2004. As head of FIU, I have secured attachment programmes for FIU staff with Daniel Frost, the head NZFIU,” Henry added.