LIBERIA: FIU Orders Lonestar Cell MTN To Halt Mobile Money Services

According to report, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Liberia has with immediate effect ordered the Lonestar Cell MTN Mobile Money Services, to put a halt to its new product, which is the International Remittance Service as it poses huge threats to countering money laundering and terrorist financing in Liberia.

A local daily, the FPA quoting a letter dated September 2, 2020 addressed to the to the Telecommunications company with the Central Bank of Liberia copied, the FIU stated that after review of documents sent by Lonestar MTN about a new product, it has come with the conclusion that the company lacks the capacity to detect and report incidence of money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

The letter was signed for and received by a staff of the company, Aarona S. Dahn.

“After review of the risk assessment document presented by the Lonestar MTN Mobile Money management, it was observed that the product among other things could provide easy means for criminal exploiting the financial system of Liberia using the international remittance service of the Lonestar MTN Mobile Money platform to continue unobserved.”

Also, the FIU says it is halting the Lonestar MTN mobile money, International Remittance service on another count that, the letter of approval received from the CBL for amendment to the company for its new product was ‘solely’ signed by a middle level staff and not the Executive Governor or any certified copy sent to his office.

When contacted about the issue, the management of LoneStar Cell MTN did not comment.

However, for the telecommunications company to go ahead with it international remittance service, the FIU is urging them [Lonestar] to put the following in place:

That Lonestar Cell MTN conduct a holistic risk assessment (using Anti Money Laundering/Counter Financing of Terrorist experts) on current local mobile money products and proposed new product.

That the Anti Money Laundering/Counter Financing of Terriorist program at the company be examined and tested by AML/CFT experts

That results/reports be presented to the FIU for review authentication

The press statement from the FIU is however warning that until the the company Mobile Money services can meet all of the deficiencies identified by the FIU, they are not allow in keeping with section 67.5. 1 of the Financial Intelligence Unit Act of 2012 to carry out international remittance service in Liberia as the product remains a convenient vehicle for money laundering and terrorist financing activities in Liberia.

“The Lonestar Mobile Money Services is hereby warned to adhere to this order as contrary to this order will see specific actions for violation and non-compliance against Lonestar MTN Mobile Money Services.”

Meanwhile, the FIU has embarked on the inspection of Reporting Entities for compliance with all Anti-Money Laundering laws and regulations. The exercise will cover both facilities of Reporting Entities in and outside of Monrovia.

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About Cholo Brooks 13487 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.

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