Cablegate: Bahrain to Host Inaugural Mena Fatf Meeting

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Bahrain will host the inaugural meeting of the Middle
East/North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENA FATF) on
November 29-30. The establishment of a FATF-styled regional
body in the Middle East and North Africa is, according to the
Bahrain Monetary Agency's (BMA) Compliance chief, "an
important initiative to help bring the region into compliance
with international standards." In the wake of September 11
the international financial community, through FATF, has
redoubled its efforts to combat money laundering and
terrorism financing by promoting transparency, best practices
and sound regulatory regimes.

2. (U) For the inaugural meeting, Bahrain invited the
Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors from Algeria,
Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt,
Yemen, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco and Syria to attend.
Additionally, Bahrain invited delegations from the US, Iraq,
France, UK, IMF, World Bank, and FATF as observers. While
most of the GCC countries responded affirmatively to their
invitations, MENA FATF organizers are still awaiting
responses from Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Saudi
Arabia. (Note. The North African countries attended and were
active participants in the organizational meeting in Manama
earlier this year. End note.)

3. (U) The first day of the conference, November 29, will be
the technical meeting to draft the MOU, select a president
and vice president and to discuss other planning issues. On
November 30, the conference attendees will sign the MOU and
hold a press conference to announce the new president and
vice president of the MENA FATF.

4. (U) Comment: The Financial Action Task Force is an
intergovernmental body that develops and promotes policies to
combat money laundering and terrorism financing. FATF
encouraged the establishment of regional bodies to promote
self-regulation. There are already regional bodies in the
Caribbean, Asia/Pacific, Eastern and Southern Africa, and
Europe, leaving the Middle East and North Africa as a notable
exception. The BMA recognized that implementing international
standards would enhance and protect the stability of
Bahrain's financial sector. The BMA actively courted FATF
and regularly participated in plenary and regional meetings
before winning approval to initiate and host the MENA FATF.
Bahrain still has room to improve the regulations in its
financial sector but expects its strong proactive example to
serve as a model for the region.


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