24th March 2022, Skopje – Increased awareness about risks when using virtual assets, designing more comprehensive regulations, as well as sustainability and constant upgrading of the system, coupled with strengthening the capacities as a whole to the end of ensuring prevention and timely detection of money laundering and financing terrorism were the conclusions reached at the closing event of the “Strengthening the capacities of the Financial Intelligence Office of North Macedonia” Project, financed by the Kingdom of Netherlands and implemented by DemocracyLab.
“The Project is of crucial importance for strengthening FIO’s capacities. Under the Project, red flag indicators, as well as strategic documents for assessing risks related to money laundering and financing terrorism were designed, being the basis for further designing of a more comprehensive national legislation on virtual assets and service providers thereof. Adoption of draft Law on Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism is of vital importance, the aim of which is to reduce the vulnerability of the national system in coping with the challenges posed by virtual assets, as well as to create real possibilities to safeguard the payment operations and the economy as a whole, thus the overall economic and financial system, against erosion”, Deputy Minister of Finance, Filip Nikoloski, said.
As Nikoloski pointed out, a modern restrictive “subtech” platform of the Financial Intelligence Office was implemented, intended for entities applying measures and actions to prevent money laundering and financing terrorism in line with the Law, thus identifying North Macedonia, compared to the countries in the region and broader, by its recognizing and using new technologies, as well as using the benefits of digitalization when fulfilling the regulatory requirements and the international standards.
FIO Director, Blazho Trendafilov, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands, Dirk Jan Kop, and DemocracyLab CEO, Sefer Selimi, had their address at the event.
“The Project has ensured harmonization of the Law on Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism with FATF recommendations as regards cryptocurrencies. The new Law, which is yet to be adopted, will be harmonized with the 6th Directive as regards cryptocurrencies, which EU is soon to adopt and implement, as per FATF recommendations”, FIO Director Trendafilov said.
Ambassador Jan Kop, recognized the following Project achievements as major: preparation of risk analysis, comparative analysis and recommendations for regulating cryptocurrencies, setting up a restrictive website for safe communication, updating the indicators for financing of terrorism, as well as strategic analysis and organizing a regional conference with FIO’s from all Western Balkan countries.
FIO representatives gave presentations during the event, talking about the operational and technical activities during Project implementation.