FIU continues one-on-one meeting with none financial sectors

POSTED: 10/22/14 9:58 PM

St. Maarten – The Financial Intelligence Unit has started one on one meetings with the business owners of the real estate agents and jewelers as part of efforts to get the none financial sector of the business community up to date on the correct reporting procedures to detect and prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Information sessions for these sectors were hosted earlier this year and director of the FIU Ligia Stella explained that these one on one meetings are a means of verifying that businesses are complying. The FIU is working closely with the local jewelers and real estate agents to ensure they understand and adhere to the reporting procedures and comply with the set regulations. These companies in turn are required to go through the procedures with their clients and potential clients to prevent money laundering and report transactions to the FIU.

While many of the businesses are familiar with what is expected, Stella said that there are still a few that require additional information. As such another information session is carded to be held early next year.  She is optimistic that by mid next year the FIU will have covered a lot of territory.

Stella is pleased with the progress that has been made to date but she believes that once the FIU is better staffed, more ground can be covered. The FIU is currently employing more persons to assist with the verification and compliance to the laws and Stella reiterated that “full compliance is not a choice it’s the law.” The FIU current list shows that there are 94 registered jewelers and 42 registered real estate agents, but Stella explained that this list is being cleaned up since some of these businesses are no longer operational.

The FIU must repeat this process with other none financial sectors once they have completed the segment with the real estate agents and jewelers and these businesses are up to par and fully compliant. Stella explained that the next sector that will be tackled is the notary public, a relatively small sector and this will be done in-house.

Following the information session and the additional attention from the FIU to assist them with their reporting behavior, most of the businesses are familiar with the procedure.  Stella explained that the FIU will continue working with these businesses to ensure that they understand all requirements and comply before it moves on to the other sector.  She noted that by taking the time to teach the reporters the correct procedures and the regulations, none compliance can be avoided.

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