By Ingrid Fernandez
Joy Grant, former Minister of Energy, Science and Technology, confirmed to the Reporter this week, that she has been appointed the new Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) director.
Grant assumes command of a Unit which has seen three directors in the last three years, but said she is committed to carrying on the work of the FIU.
Grant said her priorities involve liaising with stakeholders and making the interactions between the FIU and related organizations smoother.
She said the Unit will take recommendations from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) seriously, to develop new regulations. CFATF has given 40 recommendations to all financial institutions to comply with.
Grant shortlisted the priority recommendations offered by the CFATF and has identified additional legislation as a priority for her term at the FIU.
According to Grant, one of the FIU’s priorities is conducting a National Risk Assessment, looking at organizations in the real estate business, attorneys and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The National Risk Assessment will help the Unit to identify the weaknesses and strengths present in organizations, make adequate changes and implement methods to make them more efficient.
Grant said she is looking forward to getting to know the Department and the staff, as well as meeting with stakeholders to make information exchange and regulation implementation a smooth process.
The FIU will look at the operational NGOs and will update the database of existing ones. All NGOs will be required to register with the FIU, Grant said.
She added that the FIU will also look at the procedures organizations use to provide financial information. This will help to regularize the process and make it more efficient.
Former Director, Marylin Williams, left the post at the end of 2013 in the middle of the Elvin Penner Immigration investigation, which as far as anyone knows, remains open.
Eric Eusey, who took up the position in January 2014, mentioned that his priority was not to address the investigation but to stabilize Belize’s financial standing.
When asked about the ongoing investigation in regards to Elvin Penner, Grant said she is not aware of any details. “No, I have not seen anything about that; certainly unfortunate, I cannot comment,” she said.