The British High Commissioner in Nicosia, Stephen Lillie, has expressed hope that the UK, via its strong professional education links and shared Common Law system with Cyprus, can become a strong partner in strengthening Nicosia’s efforts to tackle illicit finance.
Lillie, who was speaking during a conference organized, on Wednesday, by the British High Commission (BHC) and the Institute of Certified Public Accounts of Cyprus (ICPAC) on combating illicit finance, highlighted Cyprus’ substantial efforts since 2013 to tackle illicit financial flows and improve international cooperation on tax, money laundering and global organised financial crime. Lillie also welcomed the call of the new Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus, Constantinos Herodotou, to the financial services industry to adopt a proactive culture against risks from illicit finance.
All speakers and participants agreed that in a global economy where money flows easily across borders, it is more important than ever that the UK and Cyprus work together to effectively tackle this shared problem.
According to a press release issued by the British High Commission, Lillie highlighted that illicit finance harms both international security and undermines the rules-based system and global prosperity.
“The UK is at the forefront of these international efforts against such practices. We have one of the world’s largest and most open economies, and London is one of the world’s most attractive destinations for overseas investors. These factors make the UK attractive for legitimate business, but also expose the UK to money laundering risk,” he added.
“Against this background, it’s essential that our efforts to ensure the reduction of illicit financial flows are pro-active and have global reach. To be effective in tackling serious and complex tax fraud, transnational organised crime and money laundering, international cooperation is necessary”, the British High Commissioner stressed.
Lillie called for proactive efforts to reduce illicit financing and urged a multi-agency approach, involving government, law enforcement, regulatory bodies and the private sector working together.
“Sharing operational information, ensuring the appropriate legislation and regulations in each country and working in international fora to promote the rules-based international order is crucial”, the British High Commissioner concluded.
During the conference, Simon York, a Director of Her Majesty’s Revenues & Customs (HMRC), shared best practice from the UK, while also presenting recent progress and the importance of international collaboration in tackling serious and complex tax fraud, transnational organised crime and money laundering.
On her part, Jennifer Haslett, Head of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT), analysed FATF’s priorities, including proliferation financing, beneficial ownership and regulation of Virtual Asset Service Providers. Jack Carter, Policy Adviser at HMT explained how the private sector can contribute to tackling economic crime.