EC and CoE support Macedonia to enhance the capacities in the fight against money laundering

Skopje, 27th February 2017 (MIA) – Republic of Macedonia will enhance the capacities of the institutions involved in the fight against economic crime, money laundering and financing terrorism. Project worth EUR 1,350 million, launched today, has been funded by the European Commission and the Council of Europe, while the Financial Intelligence Office has been in charge thereof.

 When marking the launch of the Project, the Minister of Finance Kiril Minoski pointed out that the fight against organized crime and corruption was one of the main priorities Macedonia has been committed to as a candidate country for EU membership.

According to him, setting up an efficient system to tackle money laundering and financing terrorism means applying national and international measures and regular monitoring of their application, whereby it is necessary for each country to prepare and develop adequate legal regulations, by adhering to the international standards.

- Revised international standards established new frame for applying the measures for prevention of money laundering and financing terrorism based upon risk assessment. Republic of Macedonia is one of the first countries assessing the risk from money laundering and financing terrorism at national level. In addition, Report on National Risk Assessment was adopted, Minoski pointed out.

He concluded that the international cooperation, data sharing, exchange of experience related to prevention and detection of money laundering and financing terrorism played the main role in setting up an effective and functional system.

Jaromir Levicek, Head of Operations at the EU Delegation to Skopje, stressed that the fight against organized crime and money laundering was especially significant for this region, being one of the key requirements for accessing the EU. - It is not without reason that such phenomena have negative effects on the other countries worldwide. Fast growth of markets provide for quick money transfer, by which money laundering becomes easier. In order to curb money laundering, we need to work together. Thus, we are launching this Project and we will continue to support your efforts in this field, Levicek said.

He pointed out that legalizing illegal money is the reason for the existence of organized crime and that the most efficient manner to tackle this is by cutting off the channels of its financing.

In his opinion, the fight against money laundering is important since it prevents the entrance of illegal money into the economic systems.

Monica Martinez, Head of Cooperation at the Council of Europe Programme Office Skopje, said that Republic of Macedonia had made a remarkable progress with respect to the prevention and the fight against terrorism, money laundering and corruption.

- In addition to the already carried out risk assessment, the legal framework has been improved as a first step needed in the process, including the separate law on the fight against money laundering and financing terrorism, as well as the amendments to the Criminal Code. However, there is much to be done, and the CoE and the EU remain committed to supporting this Project, Martinez said.

Director of the Financial Intelligence Office Angela Atanasova has great expectations from this Project. She believes that it may contribute to harmonizing the overall legal regulations on prevention of money laundering with the international standards, preparing a comprehensive national strategy on risk assessment of money laundering and financing terrorism, enhancing the capacities of all institutions involved in the system, also providing for strengthened inter-institutional and international cooperation.

- New international standards require new concept of acting, as well as policies and measures adequate to the respective risk, Atanasova said, adding that the continuous good cooperation is aimed at providing regulations that will both be efficiently implemented and adhere to the international standards.

Project is implemented under the EU/Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for Western Balkans and Turkey. The purpose of this Programme is improving the implementation of the key recommendations of the relevant monitoring and advisory bodies of the Council of Europe.