SA finance head to chair global body

12 July 2013

South Africa’s financial intelligence head, Murray Michell, has been appointed to chair the Egmont Group, an international organisation tasked with combating unlawful financial activities.

Michell, who heads the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), was announced as the new chairman during the 21st Egmont Plenary meeting held at Sun City in South Africa’s North West province last week.

The FIC collects and analyses data sourced from reports submitted by accountable and reporting institutions and provides the analysis to law enforcement authorities and the South African Revenue Service to follow up.

The Egmont Group was formed in 1995 to provide a platform for Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) to improve the coordination and exchange of financial intelligence and support to national anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing programmes.

‘Protecting financial system integrity’

“I am honoured to be elected as the chair of the Egmont Group and shall work to honour the trust you have placed in me,” Michell said.

“There is a huge amount of work to do. But the Egmont Group has built a wonderful platform on which to work. It is important for us to show the relevance of financial intelligence in solving crime and protecting the integrity of the financial system.”

The plenary drew 380 representatives of FIUs from 107 jurisdictions, along with 15 international organisations, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Interpol, the UNODC, Wolfsberg Group and others.

The heads of FIU meeting brings together Egmont member-FIUs and observers for in-depth discussions and training sessions.

Developing financial intelligence

The representatives discussed ways to meet the challenges faced by FIUs in combating money laundering and terrorist financing, especially in the areas of international co-operation, information sharing and the improved development of financial intelligence.

Addressing the opening of the plenary, Michell highlighted the important role of the Egmont Group in developing greater understanding of the threats and problems faced within different regional and country contexts, and enhancing the group’s capacity to better address these.

“Rhino poaching is an example of high importance to us. Greater cooperation and information exchange between Financial Intelligence Units can help to bring this scourge to a halt,” he said.

The plenary co-chair Boudewijn Verhelst, the Belgian FIU deputy director, said South Africa had been an active and respected member of the Egmont Group since it joined the organisation in 2003.

“The hosting of the Egmont Plenary, as well as South Africa’s involvement and leadership in many other prestigious international bodies, signals the strong commitment of South Africa in preventing and combating money laundering and terrorist financing not only in this beautiful country, but also in the region,” he said.