News on Sunday

Shahannah Abdoolakhan : “We need to increase anti-money laundering awareness across the country”

The National Assembly adopted recently new legislation on anti-money laundering (AML) and countering terrorist financing (CFT). In this context, Abler Consulting Ltd, an independent AML/CFT Compliance Consulting Company, has partnered with BCMS Executive for the provision of specialist training. Shahannah B. Abdoolakhan, CEO of Abler Consulting Ltd, explains how the new amendments will bring a change across the sectors. In this interview, she has also elaborated on the future of eLearning and the areas Mauritius should focus on during the years to come.  

The Government has come forward with anti-money laundering (AML) and combatting the financing of terrorism (CFT) and proliferation Bill. Do you think this will bring changes in the various sectors?
Fundamental changes will be brought to various legislations by the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and proliferation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. In line with these changes, stakeholders will need to review their AML/CFT procedures, especially the financial services sector, because of the nature of its activities and its key role in preventing money laundering and in countering terrorist financing. At the same time, Mauritius needs to increase AML/CFT awareness across the country, not only in the financial services sector. 

Since long, measures are constantly being taken to combat money laundering, but still Mauritius is looked down upon. Why so? 
In my view, Mauritius is not looked down upon. It is a jurisdiction of substance and repute. The 2019 Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, (ESAAMLG) report was published recently and according to the report, Mauritius continues to be a compliant, secure and safe destination, for both business and investment. The report further indicates that Mauritius is largely compliant with respect to the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force, (FATF). Furthermore, we have listed three advantages that would benefit Mauritius: A sound, robust legal framework to underpin our AML/CFT regime; effective regulatory measures, since with the various changes being brought to various acts, Mauritius understands its risks, has effective measures to combat Terrorist Financing (TF) and to confiscate proceeds of crime; finally, where global cooperation is concerned, Mauritius actively cooperates with international partners in its fight against money laundering (ML)/TF.

In today’s knowledge-driven economy, continuing professional development (CPD) has become more important than ever before."

You have come forward with eLearning courses. How could these courses introduced help the country in adapting to the new changes? 
As discussed, AML/CFT is not only for banks or financial services. Everyone must have an awareness of AML/CFT as an integral aspect of doing business and undertaking investments. Our courses straddle financial crime – be it AML/CFT, Sanctions, Bribery & Corruption or Governance – cyber security risk management, a risk-based approach to auditing and AML/CFT for Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs). As such, they touch upon a wide variety of topics that are pertinent to a wide range of professionals such as regulators, bankers, corporate service providers, lawyers, notaries, accountants, auditors, tax practitioners and entrepreneurs at large. Everyone is exposed and everyone needs to be cognizant of the risks.

FIAMLA Regulations 2018 states that the reporting person shall implement “an ongoing training programme for its directors, officers and employees to maintain awareness of the laws and regulations relating to money laundering and terrorism financing.” Our courses shall enable participating organisations to comply with this training requirement.

Some countries are ahead of Mauritius when it comes to technology and its usage in their daily lives. If we can cement our status as the preferred service provider to Africa for international investors, we would be well on our way to thriving."

Why eLearning and not the traditional way of doing courses?
In today’s knowledge-driven economy, continuing professional development (CPD) has become more important than ever before. Lifelong learning and commitment at work is a balance that eLearning can fulfill without disruption in the work place. Against this backdrop, eLearning is fast emerging as a flexible and cost-effective mode of disseminating best practices across all levels of an organisation. It is “anytime” training.

The benefits offered by eLearning over the traditional way of doing courses are as follows: To begin with, it is flexible as the process of eLearning allows all employees to learn at their own pace and undertake training as an ongoing process; moreover, taking up organisational membership of an eLearning series is cost effective, compared to undertaking face-to-face trainings for each employee individually; it is within greater reach because  eLearning modules renders it possible to target employees at all levels of the organisation, rather than with face-to-face training which suffers from constraints such as being costly and time-consuming; since eLearning is online, employees can access it with ease and it is also possible to refer back to the online modules in case of any doubts at a later stage; eventually, it is business as usual, as it can be rolled out to all employees without undue disruption to the business.

What is the expected outcome?
As mentioned earlier, AML/CFT is important not only for the financial services sector, but also applicable to all firms across the Mauritian economy. Thus, these courses are expected to benefit all such companies which are keen to implement a compliance culture within their organisations. With reference to the training requirement under FIAMLA, the courses will also go a long way towards ensuring that companies enrolling their employees for the eLearning series are well positioned to comply with this condition.

In order to survive in this global world today, what should be the focus of Mauritius? 
Mauritius must focus on its deep knowledge of Africa to survive in this global world today. African economies are growing faster than Mauritius and those of Europe or North America, the continent has the world’s youngest population and these young people are leading the way for the rest of the world with innovation. Some countries are ahead of Mauritius when it comes to technology and its usage in their daily lives. If we can cement our status as the preferred service provider to Africa for international investors, we would be well on our way to thriving, and not just surviving, in today’s knowledge-based economy. 

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