United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Improving Tax Administration in Uzbekistan Project and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) co-hosted this roundtable.
In the last decade the issues related to combating money laundering have become of particular concern internationally. Money laundering negatively affects the stability of financial markets, decreases investments into economies, thereby hindering sustainable economic growth of the countries. Facing the threat to their national interests, the governments are developing coordinated measures to combat illicit financial transactions and effective mechanisms of seizing criminal incomes.
Active efforts on anti-money laundering have been underway in Uzbekistan since 2004 – legislative framework has been created along with establishment Department on Combat against Tax and Currency Crimes and Money Laundering. Currently the Government is developing the Integrated Programme for Combating Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism, and special government and interagency acts.
Despite measures currently undertaken by the government to combat money laundering, there is still a range of issues that require to be addressed. For instance, a comprehensive mechanism for identification of illicit incomes and measures against their laundering as well as regulatory and information base has not yet been developed and there are shortages of specialists in the area. In order to ensure effective functioning of the money laundering system in Uzbekistan, it is essential to set up comprehensive well-coordinated activities of intelligence, investigation, controlling and supervisory bodies while reviewing and adapting the experiences of the developed and developing countries.
In order to learn about successful international experiences in identification of tax evasion and prevention of money laundering, with the support of UNDP and OSCE an Uzbek delegation comprising of government officials from a number of agencies visited the ministries and agencies of France and Turkey authorized to combat money laundering in 2007. Reviewing experience of these countries has enabled to develop a number of recommendations and proposals to prevent money laundering, identify tax evasion, and coordinate the efforts of government institutions in the area.
This roundtable was organized to discuss and summarize the outcomes of these study tours. Its relevance stems from the need to identify further efforts to improve the mechanisms of countering money laundering in Uzbekistan as well as developing measures for coordination of the activities of all stakeholder ministries in identification and prevention of economically inappropriate financial operations.
Officials of the President’s office, Cabinet of Ministers, Ministry of Finance, Prosecutor General’s Office, State Tax Committee, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Central Bank, State Tax Committee, Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as representatives of international organizations and associations of professional players in the financial markets participated in the round table’s work.
The government officials spoke on the issues of ongoing anti-money laundering control in Uzbekistan, future directions of activities, internal control systems in banks and review of international experience. The presentation dedicated to the prospects of steering the activities of tax authorities and other government bodies to combat money laundering and tax evasion drew most interest.
In open discussions the participants have noted that an interagency body to combat money laundering should be set up in Uzbekistan and a mechanism to combat money laundering should be fully implemented at all financial institutions, which will enable to effectively control illegal or doubtful operations. Also, the need for more effective collaboration of the bodies and organizations involved in the program for identification and prevention of money laundering and fostering closer cooperation with similar foreign institutions and international organizations was underlined.
The representatives of the State Tax Committee have noted the need to set up an effective system of financial intelligence and monitoring based on utilization of information and communication technologies and creation of a single interagency database, which should contain databases of many government institutions, law enforcement bodies, and public institutions.