Financial Supervisory Commission head Louise Wittwer says the review, which took place over 18 months, measured the Cook Islands supervisory and enforcement systems and activities against the Financial Action Task Force’s international standards against money laundering and financing of terrorism.
The review culminated in the tabling of the Cook Islands mutual evaluation report at the 21st meeting of the Asia Pacific Group on money laundering in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
Following the Asia Pacific Group members’ approval of the Cook Islands evaluation report, the Cook Islands was rated top in the world for technical compliance, achieving “largely compliant and above” status regarding 38 of the 40 Financial Action Task Force recommendations.
Wittwer described the rating as a significant achievement for a jurisdiction of the size of the Cook Islands. She said it reflected the “very high” level of commitment from the Cook Islands government and Crown agencies to ensuring the country’s anti-The assessment also rated the Cook Islands’ AML/CFT regime against FATF’s 11 Immediate Outcomes with five “substantive”, four “moderate” and two “low” ratings. “This was also a very positive report and resulted in the Cook Islands being just one of two members of the APG, (involved in) regular follow-up reporting,” Wittwer said. “Worldwide, most countries subject to this review are on enhanced follow-up reporting.”
She added that it was very rewarding to achieve the ratings after a long and arduous evaluation process.
“The work of the Cook Islands authorities really came to fruition on the plenary floor when our international peers supported the evaluators’ findings as depicted in the report.
“The work does not stop here, as the Cook Islands will continue to play its part in being a good international citizen in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.”
Wittwer congratulated FSC Deputy Commissioner, Cheryl McCarthy, on her outstanding performance as the Cook Islands ME country lead throughout the 18-month duration of the evaluation.
She also recognised the professionalism in which the Cook Islands delegation delivered themselves in Kathmandu.