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Central Bank: Samoa's banks not susceptible to money laundering

Photo courtesy of Samoa Observer

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Commercial banks in Samoa-- one of the nine jurisdictions that remain on the European Union's list of tax havens -- have "very low risk" of money laundering, according to the Central Bank of Samoa (CBS).

"Their sophisticated money laundering alert systems are of a very high standard," CBS said in a press release after completing onsite inspections of four commercial banks in Samoa.

The four commercial banks inspected by CBS's Financial Intelligence Unit were ANZ Bank Samoa Limited and BSP Bank and the National Bank of Samoa and Samoa Commercial Bank.

The Anti- Money Laundering and Countering Terrorist Financing onsite inspections are part of the CBS mandate under the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2007. The process involves scrutiny of bank records and interviews with staff.

"The FIU, which is now better equipped with anti-money laundering certifications and certified fraud examinations, set out to fully implement the strategies and innovations gathered through these universal certifications," CBS said.

CBS said the FIU examined the commercial banks' entire systems and policies in relation to AML and CTF matters, and to assess whether all these policies are properly put into effect to effectively counter money laundering, as well as their proper implementation.

"All the four commercial Banks fully cooperated with the FIU as they carried out their onsite inspections," CBS said. "The FIU acknowledges that the commercial banks have made great efforts to improve their AML/CTF systems and standards since the last FIU Onsite inspection in 2017."

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Samoa is on the list of jurisdictions that the EU identified as "non-cooperative" and lacking tools to address tax fraud or evasion, and money laundering.

In October, the Pacific nation was implicated in the Pandora Papers, which consisted of massive leaks of offshore data exposing the financial secrets of the rich and powerful.

ABC earlier reported that documents from Asiaciti, a company run by Australian businessman Graeme Briggs that offered access to superannuation schemes and creditor-controlled companies in Samoa, enabled wealthy foreign clients to use legal loopholes to minimize or avoid tax.

ABC reported that Asiaciti boasted that Briggs, who was Samoa’s honorary consul in Singapore for 25 years until 2016, had been responsible for “setting up of the structure and legislation of the Samoa offshore finance center.


CBS, however, defended Samoa, dismissing media reports as "misleading."

"Samoa is not on any blacklist of any kind regarding its anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing systems," CBS said. "The ratings of Samoa are done through an international standard setter – FATF (Financial Action Task Force) which is headquartered in France. Apart from FATF, there is no other universally recognized standard-setter in terms of anti-money laundering. "

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