PRESS RELEASE: Financial Investigation Training to Strengthen Samoa’s Response to Money Laundering
SAMOA, May 27 – The Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APGML) and the Pacific Transnational Crime Network (PTCN) have collaborated to offer a course on Money Laundering Investigations and Criminal Asset Forfeiture to Samoa.
The course aimed to improve skills in identifying and investigating financial crime and to strengthen inter-agency relationships and cooperation. Members of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Samoa Police, Corrections and Corrections Services (SPPCS), Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Customs and Revenue, Audit Office, Transnational Crime Control (TCU) and the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Center (PTCCC) participated in the four-day program.
The APGML comprises 41 member jurisdictions (including Samoa), other international organizations and regional observers who combat serious financial crimes in the Asia-Pacific region through the implementation of “Financial Action Task Forces”. The objective of the APG is to ensure that member countries effectively apply international standards against money laundering, the financing of terrorism and the financing of proliferation.
The President of the Pacific Transnational Crime Network, Acting SPPCS Commissioner Leiataua Samuelu Afamasaga highlighted that the strengthening of the relationship between the APG and the PTCN is a positive step in building capacity and systems to counter the threat. .
Australian Federal Police Adviser to the PTCCC, Nicole Goodwin, said that “PTCN’s 2019-2020 Transnational Crime Assessment has identified the need for greater awareness of financial crimes impacting the Blue Pacific. . We have made a concerted effort to build the relationship with the APG, which has grown over the past 18 months. The PTCCC was delighted to be invited by the APG to present courses on money laundering held virtually across the Pacific and we are delighted to have been able to provide national support for this course.”
The PTCN, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2022, is a well-established and trusted network, operating on Declarations of Law Enforcement Partnerships (LEAs) under the leadership of Pacific Island Police Chiefs. The Apia-based PTCCC plays a vital role in criminal intelligence management and coordination through cooperation and collaboration with the network of 28 TCUs in 20 countries.
Opening remarks to the course Acting Commissioner Afamasaga spoke about the importance of training to better combat financial crime affecting not only Samoa but the Pacific as a whole. He said that “transnational crime, including money laundering, is a crime without borders which underlines the importance of inter-agency and regional cooperation”.
The Acting Commissioner wished the students good luck and thanked the APGML for delivering the course in Samoa and the PTCCC advisers from the Australian Federal Police and New Zealand Police for in-country coordination.
New Zealand High Commissioner Dr Trevor Matheson said: “Aotearoa New Zealand is delighted to have funded this valuable and essential initiative. Regional security is a top priority and we are proud to support Samoa’s efforts to combat transnational crime. Her Excellency noted, “It was excellent that New Zealand Police Adviser Ms Maria-Louise Wetzell recently arrived in Samoa to provide in-person support to PTCCC operations.” “Aotearoa New Zealand looks forward to many more opportunities for collaboration and cooperation with Samoa and the PTCCC as we work together to address security threats to Samoa and the wider Pacific.”
Over the course dinner, Australian High Commissioner Emily Luck said: “As Australia’s new Foreign Minister Penny Wong has underscored in recent days, Australia is committed to contributing to stability and to the long-term security of the Pacific. In this regard, we are pleased to be able to help build the capacity of Pacific law enforcement agencies, with the strength of agencies working together to combat transnational crime.”
His Excellency said: “We are proud that the Australian Federal Police can work alongside our partners on a daily basis through the Integrated Adviser at the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Center and through the Australian Police Partnership in Samoa. “.
On Thursday, the Executive Secretary of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering, Dr. Gordon Hook, and the Deputy Governor of Central Bank Operations, Mr. Gilbert Wongsin, took part in the closing ceremony by presenting certificates to the 20 participants who completed the training.
Dr Hook thanked the Central Bank of Samoa; participants for their commitment; APG presenter Mike Petty and the New Zealand government for funding the program. Additionally, Dr Hook expressed his appreciation for the PTCCC and noted the unsung heroes of his team in Australia who play a vital role in working with members across the Pacific and around the world.
Deputy Governor Wongsin, former head of Samoa’s Financial Intelligence Unit, who also led the foundation of Samoa’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing efforts, stressed the importance of the program to building skills and knowledge in the field and intense training undertaken by the participant over the four days. He concluded by commenting that “the real training begins when you return to your respective workplace and apply what you have learned this week, because the key to successful training is to put what you have learned into action. to make your role as financial regulator and law enforcement and the role of your institution or authority more effective and efficient”.