ASIA PACIFIC GROUP ON MONEY LAUNDERING ADOPTS TONGA'S FIRST MUTUAL
On Thursday 14 July 2010 the plenary meeting of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering
(APGML) adopted Tonga's first mutual evaluation report on Tonga's anti-money-laundering and
combating terrorist financing (AML/CFT) framework. The APGML is a 40 member regional body of
countries in the Asia and Pacific region.
The mutual evaluation report was produced by a 5 member team of experts from Hong Kong,
Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands and the APGML Secretariat, who were in Tonga for two weeks in
early November 2009 to undertake the evaluation. This team gathered information by meeting the Tongan
government and other stakeholders.
The main objective of the APGML is to ensure that its member countries have enacted laws and
established institutions that are able to effectively protect its country from money laundering and the
financing of terrorism. In particular, each country is required to comply with 40 recommendations and 9
special recommendations established by the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering and
terrorist financing. The Financial Action Task Force is the international governmental body that sets up
the minimum standards required to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism. These minimum
standards are expected to be complied with by APGML member countries including Tonga.
The FATF and the APGML were established by G7 country leaders due to their recognition that
money laundering and the financing of terrorism has the potential of causing significant damage to the
national, regional and international banking and financial sectors, and could also encourage illegal
activities and illegal goods to be moved around the world.
According to Ms Siosi Mafi, the Governor of the National Reserve Bank of Tonga, who was the
Head of Tonga's Delegation to the APGML annual meeting, "The adoption of Tonga's mutual evaluation
report was a significant step forward for Tonga's legal and financial systems. This now means that Tonga
has been formally measured against internationally accepted standards, and Tonga is now recognised as
part of the regional and international network in the fight against AML/CFT."
She added that, "The main challenge now is for the Tongan Government and authorities to carry
out legislative, policy and financial reforms to strengthen the weaknesses in Tonga's AML/CFT
framework, which were identified in the evaluation report. If we fail to do so, Tonga's banking and
financial system, border control system, and legal enforcement system will be deemed unreliable and
would have serious international implications and consequences. It could affect the international
relationships of Tonga with other APG member countries, such as banking relationship, foreign aid,
foreign investment, etc. We certainly do not want Tonga to become a haven for money launderers and
perpetrators of illegal activities".
Before undergoing the mutual evaluation, the Government's Committee on Money Laundering
and Financing of Terrorist Activities had prepared the necessary legislative reforms in order to make
Tonga more compliant. However, due to priorities being given to the national political reform process,
and the scheduling of Tonga's evaluation for November 2009, the Committee deliberately made a
strategic decision to defer enacting these legislative amendments in order for the evaluation process to
identify all the necessary legislative amendments required by Tonga to be processed. This move was
recognised by the plenary and Tonga has been encouraged to enact these legislative amendments as soon
as possible and draw up a strategic implementation plan of action to make Tonga more compliant. Tonga
is required to report back to next year's annual meeting its strategic implementation plan.
Tonga's delegation also included the Solicitor General, Mr ‘Aminiasi Kefu, and Ms ‘Ungatea
Latu, Acting Manager of the Financial Institutions and Markets Department of the National Reserve Bank
The plenary meeting of the APGML was held from 12 to 16 July, and was hosted by the
Government of Singapore at the Suntec City Convention Centre.
Committee on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Activities
c/ Crown Law Department
For further information, please contact:
The Solicitor General
Crown Law Department
Telephone: (676) 24055/24007
Facsimile: (676) 24005