21 countries of MENA region convene to Amman for Virtual Assets conference
More than 120 participants from the 21 countries of the MENA region on Tuesday 13 December 2022 convened to Amman to participate in the Regional Conference on “Dealing with Virtual Assets and AML/CFT”.
Co-organised by the EU Global Facility on Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) and the Jordanian National Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing Committee (NAMLCTFC), with the participation of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), the three-day event hosted by Jordan marks the first high-level event in the field of virtual assets (VAs) in the region.
His Excellency Dr. Adel Al Sharkas, Governor of CBJ and Chairman of the AML/CTF National Committee, emphasised the importance of this conference at the regional level, as the challenges and opportunities are similar and shared among the countries of the region.
“It is essential to draw on the experiences that will be shared at this conference, which will provide an opportunity to build on countries’ strengths, build capacity and upgrade the competencies of national agencies, and update them on the latest developments in international standards issued by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) associated with activities related to VAs and VA service providers, and risk analysis”.
He added that this conference will contribute to strengthening the capacity to conduct investigations, develop skills, enhance knowledge and enhance expertise, in regards of VAs in order to developing best practices in the field. H.E concluded with thanking the EU Global Facility, the French Embassy, the experts and the countries representatives for their presence in this conference and expressed his best wishes to all.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Alexis Le Cour Grandmaison, French Ambassador to Jordan, underlined the need to put in place an adequate legal framework to identify criminal assets, including virtual assets, as early as possible in the investigation in order to maximise the possibilities of effecting a seizure. He also referred to the decisive action of the French Asset Recovery Agency (AGRASC) “whose recoveries have doubled between 2020 and 2021 to reach 480 million euros. It is important that this activity benefits the public community”.
The event, which will witness the intervention of more than 20 experts from the Americas, Europe and the Arab world, seeks to tackle the causes and existence of AMLCFT risks, and promote cooperation and compliance with the global standards and cooperation in the field of Vas. Ultimately, it seeks to guide respective countries, their competent authorities, and the private sector, on shaping the strategic direction of dealing with VAs, Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs), and understanding requirements of this direction, i.e. banning or regulating VAs.
“This event is a recognition of the crucial importance of exchanging and sharing best practices between countries from the same region, especially on such an innovative and new topic,” said EU Global Facility Team Leader David Hotte, thanking all participants for their active participation and interest in the topic.
💡 VAs represent an attractive economic opportunity for jurisdictions, but bring along a number of challenges and risks that must be understood and managed for their safe integration within a country’s economy. Amongst other things, are financial crime risks (for example the abuse of VAs to evade sanctions, launder money or finance terrorism), as well as the potential impact on the wider ecosystem. For instance, banks might need to put in place increased/tailored monitoring to bank these operators, and regulators might need to adapt their regulatory and supervisory approaches to target the specific risks brought about by VA operators, whilst guaranteeing a rapid regulatory process and a smooth supervision experience (to maintain a competitive edge against other jurisdictions).