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Belize hosts its first Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Finance of Terrorism Conference

HighlightsBelize hosts its first Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Finance of Terrorism Conference

Photo: Michelle Kwan, U.S. Ambassador of Belize

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Feb. 15, 2023

On Tuesday, February 14, Belize held its first National Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Finance of Terrorism, (AMLCFT) Conference.

The two-day event was held in Belize City at Biltmore Plaza and in attendance were members of both the public and private sectors, including the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, the U.S. Ambassador of Belize Michelle Kwan, the President of the University of Belize Dr. Vincent Palacio, and other guests.

The AMLCFT conference, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Unit and the University of Belize (UB), aimed to unite both stakeholders and the general public in combating the danger of money laundering and terrorist financing, particularly those bigger institutes dealing with large quantities of resources and how to prevent abuse of the financial system by criminals/terrorists, expanding on areas such as compliance, regulation, and law enforcement.

Topics that were mainly touched on included asset recovery, the relationship between money laundering and corruption, virtual assets, cybercrime, drug trafficking, and others.

Amongst different informative speakers, Dr. Palacio spoke about the launch of the new University of Belize Institute of Banking and Finance.

“The establishment of the newly minted University of Belize Institute of Banking and Finance, launched just last evening, will provide globally recognized certification training in anti-money laundering, countering the finance of terrorism, cyber security, fraud risk management, among others. We anticipate our first AML certification course to be offered in partnership with the AMLCFT Institute and Compliance Aid starting March 30th of this year, a few weeks from now” said Palacio.

And while some may think issues like these could hardly occur in Belize, it is far from the truth. The U.S. Ambassador to Belize, Michelle Kwan, highlighted the unfortunate reality for Belize simply based on its location.

“This event invites the sharing of best practices that will help keep Belize and the region safer by ensuring that money does not fall in the wrong hands. Belize is a prime tourist destination, as we all know, regularly making the best places to travel list globally. But Belize’s prime location, and the structure of its financial sector also, regrettably, makes Belize an equally desirable destination for money laundering and illicit finance. Belize’s anti-money laundering compliance efforts, therefore, require a dedicated and rigorous approach to respond to these challenges.”

The event continued with other important speakers as well as the Minister of State, Finance, Hon. Chris Coye.

“While Belize is open for business, we want to encourage investments that are durable, equitable, and untainted by the specter of illegality. That is clearly the way to resilient, economic recovery that will endure for generations to come,” said Coye.

He also touched on the committee’s development of a National Anti-Money Laundering strategy and policy for the consideration of the Cabinet, a worthwhile venture in itself.

The AMLCFT Conference will become an annual event.

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