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UNODC promotes AML/CFT among the lawyer and notary professions in the fight against money laundering

Hanoi (Viet Nam), 4 March 2019 - Combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism cannot be achieved by one sector on its own, be it the police, prosecutors, FIU and Customs on one side, or the financial institutions and the designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs) including the legal profession, casino's, money exchanges, real estate agents and high value dealers from the private sector on the other. An effective and robust AML/CFT policy must include both private and public sector cooperation.

During the course of three AML awareness workshops in Hanoi (4 March) Da Nang (6 march) and Ho Chi Minh City (8 March) UNODC's Global Program Against Money Laundering Advisor, Mr Chris Batt, brought together over 100 lawyers and notaries from both domestic and international law firms to discuss how to strengthen AML policies in Viet Nam. The timing of these events was crucial as Viet Nam will undergo its next international AML/CFT mutual evaluation in November 2019.

In a program funded by the Government of Switzerland and working with the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) GPML's advisor Mr Chris Batt organized the three events to raise awareness amongst lawyers and notaries to the need to comply with Vietnam's AML law and in particular to conduct appropriate customer due diligence, maintain adequate records and report suspicious transactions. Additional guidance was provided on how to establish and maintain adequate AML/CFT programs within businesses including developing appropriate AML/CFT training programs for relevant staff. Mr Batt said 'In the last 2-3 years a significant amount of technical assistance has been provided to Vietnamese police, Customs, prosecutors and the FIU in the area of anti-money laundering and financial investigation techniques. Having a robust law enforcement response is fine, but to complete the picture we need to ensure that the private sector is also playing its part in conducting adequate customer due diligence policies and reporting suspicious transaction reports when appropriate'.

Joining UNODC and SBV at the two events was Ms Pei-ling Tsai from the Taiwanese Ministry of Justice who had generously agreed to support the three events. Over a number of years, Ms Pei-ling has been involved in the development of successful AML/CFT policies in Taiwan particularly amongst the legal profession. She was able to provide useful examples for the lawyers and notaries on how to comply with the FATF recommendations and what to expect from the forthcoming mutual evaluation.

Following the formal presentations by UNODC, State Bank of Viet Nam and Ms Pei-Ling Tsai, the speakers participated in a panel discussion at the conclusion of the three workshops attracting many questions from the participants representing the Vietnamese domestic and international legal profession. The three workshops followed similar events in 2018 which catered for the financial institutions and further workshops are planned with regard to other DNFBP entities such as the Casino's, Real Estate Agents and High Value Dealers.

Mr Batt added; 'The level of engagement with the participants showed that there was great interest amongst the private sector to get AML/CFT responses right. This bodes well for the future'