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Cablegate: Morocco Launches Agressive Campaign to Publicize

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRB #1699/01 3091701
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051701Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7698
INFO RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 4575
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2211
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 5832
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 3596
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4824
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 3645
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS RABAT 001699

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG, S/CT, EB AND INL
CAIRO FOR TREASURY ATTACHE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIN PTER PGOV MA
SUBJECT: MOROCCO LAUNCHES AGRESSIVE CAMPAIGN TO PUBLICIZE
ITS NEW AML STATUTE

REF: RABAT 889

Sensitive but unclassified - not for internet distribution.

1. (U) Summary: The Moroccan government on October 31
launched an aggressive campaign to publicize the country's
new anti-money laundering statute and to educate concerned
institutions about their responsibilities under the
legislation. Moroccan Central Bank Governor Abdellatif
Jouahri was joined by the Ministers of Finance, Justice, and
Interior, as well as the President of the Chamber of
Representatives for the session, which was also attended by
top figures from banking and financial circles in Casablanca,
including Othman Benjoullon, President of BMCE Bank and the
Moroccan Banking Association. The Rabat kick-off will be
followed over the next few months by similar events in other
major Moroccan cities. End Summary.

2. (U) The highly-publicized campaign seeks to explain the
contents and objectives of Morocco's new anti-money
laundering statute (law No. 43-05) and to inform concerned
actors about how the system will work so they can carry out
their responsibilities and coordinate regularly with
appropriate officials. It also appears aimed at countering
widespread concerns, which found voice during parliamentary
debates earlier this year prior to the law's passage, that
the legislation will harm the Moroccan economy. Jouahri
emphasized to attendees that the legislation is necessary not
just to enable Morocco to fulfill its international
obligations, but also to "improve the business climate in our
country." Money laundering, he stressed, has a negative
impact on a country's economic well-being, as it increases
risks for financial institutions and damages a country's
international reputation, thereby leading investors and
others to hestitate to do business with it.

3. (U) The legislation, Jouahri said, brings Morocco's AML
regime into better conformity with international norms and
will enable the country to contribute fully to international
efforts against money laundering. He credited parliament
with ensuring both that the law took into account the
Moroccan context, and that it respected the "professional
confidentiality" of those who play a role in the system,

SIPDIS
while also shielding them from legal liability for carrying
out their obligations. Jouahri stressed that Morocco is
prepared for the new law, as the Central Bank moved as early
as 2003 to ensure proper vigilance in the banking sector.
The legislation, he argued, formalizes and completes the
bank's earlier work. Jouahri noted that other parallel
efforts have also contributed to consolidation of Morocco's
anti-terror finance and anti-money laundering regime. These
include raising the percentage of the population that uses
banks (though it still remains low at 25 percent),
encouraging recorded payments, and enhancing banking
supervision. In closing, Jouahri stressed the need for
strong international cooperation, and noted Morocco's
existing ties on the subject with a range of international
actors, including the European Union and United States, and
the United Nations, IMF, and World Bank.

4. (U) Other speakers delivered similar messages, including
Minister of Finance Mezouar and Minister of Justice Radi.
Though Prime Minister El-Fassi could not attend due to the
parliamentary debate over his government's program, his
message was read to those present by an official from the
Primature. The Ministers also emphasized that the measure is
an integral part of Morocco's efforts to combat corruption in
all its forms.

5. (SBU) Neither Jouahri nor any of his colleagues, however,
indicated when Morocco's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)
will be operational. That entity remains the key missing
piece in the puzzle. Contacts told us earlier this year that
the unit should be operational from the beginning of 2008,
and that appears to remain the plan.

6. (SBU) Comment: The high profile launch indicates the
priority that Morocco accords to the legislation and its
desire to ensure that it functions effectively. Turnout from
both government and private sector was impressive. Equally
noteworthy was the major billing all speakers gave to

parliament's "contribution" to the final shape of the
legislation. We will follow up with key contacts to
reconfirm that Morocco is on track to launch the FIU next
year. End comment.

*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
*****************************************

Jackson

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