Statement of Lithuania at the UN Security Council Open Debate on combating the financing of terrorism
National statement delivered by Ambassador Audra Plepytė, Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the UN, at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on “Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts: combating the financing of terrorism".
Lithuania aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
We would like to express our gratitude to France and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Yves Le Drian for convening this open debate on preventing and combating the financing of terrorism – as well as for continuous efforts put forth in creating opportunities to seek out responses to this chameleon of an international threat. I would also like to thank Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov, the President of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Marshall Billingslea, and anti-money laundering expert Mercy Buku for their valuable insights.
We are delighted to note the new stimulus given to the Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) guidelines through the Council resolution introduced by France as one of the most constructive outcomes to the “No Money for Terror” Ministerial Conference of April 2018.
Significance of an integrated approach in countering financing of terrorism remains paramount – through:
- reinforcement of national legal and operational frameworks to collect, analyze and share information;
- effective anticipation of the constantly evolving risk;
- enhanced assessment of abuse of new financial instruments;
- and strengthened public-private partnerships in countering the terrorism financing.
Terrorism financing threat in Lithuania is assessed as low and there has only been one terrorism financing-related conviction recorded. However, no state is immune from terrorism activity within its borders and the global dispersion of its threat requires a comprehensive response on all national, regional, and international levels. A Member State of the European Union and NATO, Lithuania remains vigilant and deeply committed to the international cooperation in building defenses against money laundering and the financing of terrorism through methodical implementation of the AML/CFT (anti-money laundering/counter financing of terrorism) standards with an absolute rigor and determination.
Lithuania attaches great importance to full compliance with and implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and appropriate recommendations of the UN bodies and FATF, as well the strengthened EU regulations (particularly through the reinforced Anti-Money Laundering Directive). National legislative framework has also been reinforced. In May 2015, Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania adopted the Public Security Development Programme for the period of 2015-2025. It is focused on security policy and public security planning, including counterterrorism and terrorism financing. An interagency AML/CFT Working Group was established as a result, bringing together regulators, law enforcement agencies, and other government entities to collaboratively identify, assess and mitigate key and emerging money laundering and terrorism financing risks.
In addition to that, in 2018 the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) has completed evaluation of Lithuania in assessing its compliance with the principal international standards to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism and the effectiveness of their implementation. MONEYVAL concluded in its report that Lithuania had resilient coordination mechanisms in place, including the AML/CFT Coordination Group and numerous active agreements on exchange of information amongst authorities at operational level, specifically between the Bank of Lithuania and the Financial Crime Investigation Service. Evaluation team has also reported a positive feedback received from the AML/CFT global network in relation to the quality and relevance of assistance provided by Lithuania.
MONEYVAL has also acknowledged that Lithuania had a sound legal and procedural framework for exchanging information with foreign partners in a comprehensive, proactive and timely manner, both upon request and spontaneously, and in line with its low risk profile. Lithuania actively seeks international co-operation from other states, which has resulted in convictions, seizure and confiscation of proceeds of crime. Bank of Lithuania has also elaborated a set of innovative consultation tools for the financial market participants on anti-money laundering issues, so to deepen their understanding of implementation of the relevant supranational and national regulations.
Cryptocurrency has a clear potential to be used for terrorism financing purposes and other forms of online crime. Even though bitcoin and similar digital assets were not used to fund recent terrorist attacks, there are worrisome trends of attempts to use it for financing their online infrastructure. It is of a paramount importance to deter terrorists from fundraising activities via social media, abusing pre-established crowd-funding networks and web based services. We consider this area an excellent opportunity for public-private partnerships and initiatives.
International community has countered financing of terrorism with broad cooperation to track and cut off funds through a range of initiatives to counter terrorism financing by constraining access to legitimate financial channels. However, a constant monitoring and enforcement of all of our commitments and increased political will remain essential, particularly when dealing with the non-state actors and terrorists increasingly turning to new methods of financial support that are ever more difficult to curtail.
New York, 28 March 2019