Algeria tightens anti-money laundering mechanisms until implementation

Algeria is preparing to issue a new law to combat money laundering and its relationship with terrorist activities within the framework of strengthening its legal arsenal in order to protect the economy and the financial and banking system and to monitor international developments and adapt the legal system in accordance with international treaties and agreements to which Algeria has acceded , while implementation remains the biggest challenge facing this law.
The Algerian government, which is behind the draft law on amendments to Law no. (05-01) of February 6, 2005, which refers to the prevention and fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, aims to strengthen the control of financial gifts and donations received by organizations and associations of a charitable nature, especially those whose source is abroad, and restrictions on suspicious funds and donations that are transferred to other destinations.
“The draft law on preventing and combating money laundering and terrorist financing will strengthen mechanisms to protect the national economy and the financial and banking system from this dangerous form of crime,” said Algerian Justice Minister Abdel Rashid Tabib, during the presentation of the bill. to the parliament.
The minister explained that the goal of this law is to “keep pace with national legislation with international developments and adapt our legal system in accordance with the treaties and agreements to which Algeria has acceded.”

Risk evaluation

The new text obliges financial institutions to take appropriate procedures and measures to identify and assess the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing, and obliges them to develop “implementation programs and measures based on a risk-based approach to combat these crimes, and assigns supervision and supervisory bodies which will monitor their implementation.”
The Algerian Minister of Justice said that “associations and non-profit organizations must adopt rules of prudent behavior, in particular refraining from accepting donations and financial assistance of unknown origin or derived from illegal actions or from persons, organizations or structures proven to be involved inside or outside the territory Republic in activities related to terrorist crimes.” And to refrain from receiving any sums of money without the permission of the competent ministry.
The Algerian minister stated that among those dealing with the law are financial institutions that “carry out activities or operations for commercial purposes in the name or for the account of a client, such as receiving money and other returnable deposits, loans or advances, and other operations.” It also refers to non-financial institutions and professions that “carry out activities.” In addition to those performed by financial institutions, including regulated liberal professions such as lawyers when they carry out transactions with financial characteristics for the account of their clients, notaries, bailiffs, auctioneers, accounting experts and others who are obliged to apply preventive measures, including reporting suspicions .
He called on civil society institutions and organizations to “report suspicious transactions” so that they would not be under the influence of the law, pointing out that the draft law “obliges subjects to report to a specialized body, which is the unit for processing financial inquiries at the Ministry of Finance, every transaction for which suspected to be related to money obtained from a predicate or related crime.” money laundering or related to the financing of terrorism or the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Tabib added that the draft law envisages “obliging those subject to the upcoming new law to take appropriate procedures and measures to identify and assess the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing, which must be commensurate with the nature and size of their activities and the nature of the risk.”
The government’s text talks about “expanding the area of ​​international cooperation in everything related to investigative requests, international judicial delegations and extradition of wanted persons”.
Among the most important changes in the new bill compared to the previous text is “confiscation of monetary assets and non-convicts if they represent material benefits acquired by committing criminal offenses prescribed by the new text”.

Implementation problem

On the other hand, the Algerian expert on financial and economic issues, Suleiman Nasser, said that “the law on preventing and combating money laundering and terrorist financing came to solve the shortcomings and shortcomings that appeared after 2015”.
Nasser said that “embezzlements from banks occurred in the period before 2019, which is the year of the fall of the so-called gang that robbed large sums of money in corruption operations involving businessmen and former ministers who laundered millions of dollars and smuggled them out of Algeria.”

He added that “in the past, businessmen took advantage of bank loans in huge amounts without giving guarantees about the complicity of former managers of banks and financial institutions, most of whom are in prisons.”

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Suleiman Nasser pointed out that “the problem is not in passing laws, but in their application, that is, the strictness that they are applied to all parties and that they do not remain just a dead letter on paper”.
The same spokesman pointed out that “most of the looted funds are outside the country, which is why it is imperative for Algeria to strengthen its relations with foreign countries and coordinate with them, especially with those towards which money is smuggled and which have signed international agreements to fight money laundering and support terrorism.”
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said, during a recent periodic meeting with local media representatives, that “the country is determined to continue the fight against corruption, especially in terms of recovering looted and smuggled funds,” revealing that “about $20 billion has been discovered far inside the country.” .
As for some proposals on amnesty procedures for those involved in looting and smuggling of public money, President Tebboune confirmed his rejection of this idea as it contradicts the “principles of morality and law”.
Commenting on this, Suleiman Nasser opined that these recovered funds, which he described as an “important amount”, will support the state budget which is suffering from a deficit estimated at around 31 billion dollars.

court agreements

According to the Algerian Minister of Justice, the draft law is equal between all Algerian and foreign judicial bodies, in everything related to requests for investigation, international judicial delegations and the extradition of wanted persons, and between specialized Algerian bodies and those of other similar countries involving money laundering or the financing of terrorism and related crimes, as well as the proliferation of weapons of destruction Comprehensively, emphasizing the existence of strong international coordination between these specialized bodies and Algeria.
Algeria has concluded judicial agreements with several countries that allow the extradition of persons convicted of corruption.
In 2013, Great Britain extradited the owner of the private “Khalifa Bank”, Rafik Khalifa, to Algeria for his involvement in “money laundering”. The United Arab Emirates also extradited the head of the “Sonatrach” fuel group, Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, last year. , accusing him of “money laundering and mismanagement”.
The government is trying to tighten laws in accordance with international agreements, the most important of which is the International Agreement on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, which Algeria signed in 1999.

Last year, the Algerian government put two organizations on the list of “terrorist groups” and accused them of “receiving dubious funds from abroad for the purpose of carrying out terrorist actions at home”, namely the “Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylia”. Region” and “Rašad’s Movement”.

Dozens of their associates were arrested and sentenced to prison terms on charges of “terrorism”. Courts have also issued international arrest warrants against the leaders of two refugee organizations in European countries after they were sentenced in absentia to lengthy prison terms.
The penalty for “leading a terrorist organization” in Algeria is the death penalty, and anyone active or involved in such organizations is liable to life imprisonment.

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