Sri Lanka is hoping to be removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list for money laundering and terrorist financing this October, and is targeting the gem and jewellery trades.

Both FATF and the EU have said that these sectors are “high risk” in terms of money laundering and terrorist financing.

AML/CFT obligations

Already this year, Sri Lanka’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has begun an awareness and training programme for gem and jewellery traders on the anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework and the obligations of dealers in these trades.

The programme is backed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), which is leading the country’s bid to be removed from the FATF watch list.

Named compliance officer

Dealers in the gem and jewellery industries must be licensed and registered by the National Gem and Jewellery Authority, and the CBSL has charged this authority with regulating AML/CFT compliance in these sectors.

What particularly concerns the CBSL is that gem and jewellery firms appoint a named compliance officer who is accountable to the regulator.

Action plan

The central bank has requested support from the Sri Lankan cabinet to implement the required changes under an action plan the country has already agreed with FATF.

As well as gem and jewellery traders, the action plan calls for tightening of AML/CFT compliance in non-banking financial institutions, casinos and the real estate sector.