05-2022 Konekt in the 5th edition of the quarterly newsletter of the Macedonian Banking Association (MBA)

In the newsletter, we talk about how non-profit organizations together with the MBA and other stakeholders are active partners in the development of the system of prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.
The full newsletter is available at MBA’s website.

04-2022 Training on the standards and benefits of the Trust Mark

On 07.04.2022, 17 civil society organizations were closely acquainted with the standards of the Trust Mark and the benefits of its use in the online workshop we held for CSOs. “The workshop helped us not only to get acquainted with the Trust Mark but also gave us the roadmap as civil society organizations to move within the framework of building strong organizations.” – Slavica Taseva, President of the Association of Career Development Advisers – ASK Skopje. More information about the label can be found at the following link:https://tinyurl.com/3bhp9yhz.

 

12-2021 – 02-2022 – Trainings for NPOs 

5 trainings for Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) on how to identify and prevent corruption, money laundering, and financing terrorism and improve their transparency and accountability, were conducted. In total 140 participants were part of the 5 trainings, out of which 100 were representatives of 85 NPOs (out of the total participants 6 were representatives from public institutions and 5 from the business community). 96% of the respondents on the evaluation forms stated that they would recommend the training to others. Part of the responses in the section related to what the participants most liked from the training were:

  • The possibility of engaging in a discussion to express an opinion on certain issues. I also liked that the smaller organizations became aware of the risks that exist”; 
  • “Financial management and human resource management is the part of this training that we will take with us and from where we will draw all the shared data for the future functioning of our organization.”
  • “I will put special emphasis on the offered mechanisms for dealing with possible terrorist financing and money laundering, as well as their detection.”

 

10-2021 – 12-2021 Working group for the STR Indicators for NPOs

In cooperation with Konekt, FIO, and the Macedonian Banking Association, and having in mind the conducted Risk Assessment, a working group was formed as part of the USAID’s Civic Engagement Project. The purpose of the working group is to jointly review the STR indicators in order to increase their effectiveness, enable risk-based analysis and prevent the phenomenon of de-risking. Through five (5) working meetings of the working group, in addition to the revision of the existing indicators, we also worked on the preparation of material for interpretative notes for the revision of the indicators in order for them to represent a unified approach and become part of banking practices at the state level. In total on these working meetings 48 participants took part (2 state institutions, 13 banks, 2 saving banks and 2 NPOs). The participatory approach that involved all stakeholders was useful and contributes to a common understanding of the application and interpretation of indicators. As an added value of the process of joint work, through the meetings of the working group it was concluded that it is important for non-profit organizations to understand the work of banks, but at the same time we saw the need for banks and regulators to get more information about the nature of non-profit organizations. differs from that of other entities. This process also identified the need to conduct training for the banks to improve and facilitate their work with NPOs as clients.

 

10-2021 Promotion of the “Trust Mark” as a means of self-regulation for NPOs from ML and FT

The Trust Mark has been developed by Konekt and ECNL and it is a self-regulatory system that aims to make it easier for citizens and companies to choose the trusted organizations to which they can donate. It seeks to increase long-term trust between CSOs and local donors. The Trust Mark has been upgraded to include the recommendations of FATF enabling CSOs to successfully protect themselves from the risk of being abused by ML and FT. That is why the “TrustMark” is recognized in the NPO Risk Assessment as an effective self-regulatory measure. This is mostly due to the fact that it includes internal protection mechanisms for CSOs that are recognized by donors, banks and the wider community. Konekt has also developed, printed and distributed an educational booklet on the “Trust Mark” and its compliance with the FATF recommendations, as well as the fact that it is a successful self-regulatory measure to prevent PP and FT in NPOs. The booklet has been disseminated to 160 NPOs.

 

10-2021 – Regional Learning Forum “Religious organizations on the pathways to a risk-based approach in CTF/ALM” 

On 27.10.2021 Konekt jointly with FIO, HSC, GIZ and the Commission for Relations with Religious Communities and Religious Groups conducted the Regional Learning Forum “Religious organizations on the pathways to a risk-based approach in CTF/ALM”. The forum gave the possibility to raise awareness and share knowledge on the above-mentioned topic at a regional and international level, by engaging 54 key stakeholder representatives from of 13 countries (NPOs, FIOs, relevant state institutions, religious organizations and communities)(Albania, Andorra, BiH, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, The Netherlands, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine). On the forum the findings from the Comparative Analyses were shared (a product from the project “Support to national efforts for compliance with FATF Recommendation 8 to GIZ Global Program Combating Illicit Financial Flows”, implemented by Konekt and Human Security Collective, provided with the support of GIZ Global Program Combating Illicit Financial Flows). There was also a peer-to-peer session on exchanging good practice examples for risk-based approaches in CTF/ALM in religious NPOs.

As a product of the forum, regional conclusions were drafted as follows:

  • It is clear that all CFT and AML measures should protect and respect the freedom of religion and belief and to not disrupt the legitimate activities of religious NPOs.
  • Religious NPOs are an important sub-section of the NPO sector. Following the FATF recommendations, it is obvious that this part of the sector should also be covered in the NPO-specific risk assessments. Subsequently, the religious NPOs should be protected from abuse within the AML and CTF systems of the countries.
  • The comparative analysis produced by the project is an important first step that brings useful information for practitioners in one place. However, more clarity and guidance are needed on how to define protective and preventive mechanisms.
  • Dialogue proved to be an important tool that showed the pathways (both internationally and locally) for the use of the risk-based approach in the NPO sector. Inclusion of the religious NPOs in that dialogue enables the understanding of their way of operations and needs for protection.
  • Except for legal solutions (which differ from country to country), much more work should be done for developing preventative measures and internal practices within the religious NPOs for which they themselves should be the leaders. Cooperation with the rest of the NPO sector that already developed good practices is a good starting point.
  • An additional focus is to be given to the AML aspects from the perspective of the religious NPOs and to design mitigating measures for the risks in this field.

This Comparative Analysis is a pioneering step and a valuable resource that contributes to the topic of Religious NPOs and risk-based approaches in CTF/ALM and we hope that it will encourage further research and development in this sphere.

 

09-2021 – Policy dialogue and outreach om the Analyses of Religious NPOs 

On 29.09.2021, Konekt jointly with FIO, HSC and GIZ conducted the Policy dialogue event and outreach to key stakeholders, where the initial findings/recommendations of the comparative analyses on Religious NPOs and the CTF/AML system were shared. This was a first direct encounter where we had dialogue among the relevant institutions, religious organizations and CSOs. At the event the main speakers were FIO’s Director and GIZ’s Regional Coordinator, followed by 23 participants representing institutions such as: the FIO; the Commission for Relations with Religious Communities and Religious Groups; the Central Registry of Republic of North Macedonia; the Ministry of Justice; religious organizations and CSOs. After tej discussion the main main findings/recommendations were circulated with the participants.

 

06-2021 Partnership in the NPO Risk Assessment for TF is a global example

In addition to intensive work on the topic locally, in order to share good practices from our country, Konekt in partnership with FIO and ECNL, on 10.06.2021 an international forum for 90 participants from 22 jurisdictions, Egmont, MONEYVAL, banks and non-profit organizations was organized. At the International Forum of Governments and Non-Profit Organizations entitled “Non-Profit Organizations and Risk Assessment – Engagement and Lessons Learned for Effective Implementation”, we shared with the international community the experiences of conducting a terrorist risk assessment for non-profit organizations in the country. At the forum, RSM was promoted as a leader in establishing partnerships with the non-profit sector and other relevant stakeholders to conduct this type of risk assessment.

Opening the event, the President of the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Mr. Stevo Pendarovski, emphasized: “our main concern must be not to disturb the delicate balance between national security and freedom as a supreme value.” The Secretary General of the MONEYVAL Committee of the Council of Europe, Mr. Igor Nebivaev, emphasized that the processes of preventing money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism have a significant impact on the non-profit sector. They also require more resources and expertise to ensure proper and risk-based implementation of relevant international standards, without interfering with legitimate nonprofit activities. Mr. Blazo Trendafilov, Director of UFR stressed the importance of the risk assessment process and cooperation with the sector. “Non-profit organizations are a mirror of democracy. “It’s our duty to protect them,” he said. Ms. Katerina Hadzi-Miceva Evans, Executive Director of ECNL, stressed that “the established partnership in RSM is a good example internationally and should be nurtured.” More information about the regional forum in which MBA representatives actively participated is available at this link.

 

05-2021 and 08-2021 – Promotional events for the NPO Risk Assessment on TF

Jointly Konekt, FIO, ECNL and USAID promoted the understanding of the NPO Risk Assessment closer to the general public and to familiarize NPOs with risk factors, ways of abuse and how NPOs can protect their organization, via online promotional events. In the period May-August 2021, a total of 4 information meetings were conducted where 101 NPOs took part, with an emphasis on those organizations that work in areas that the Risk Assessment defines them as risky for terrorism.

 

 

01-2021 Beneficial Ownership for NPOs

In cooperation with FIO and the Central Registry (CR), Konekt supported the implementation process of the Register of Beneficial Ownership at NPOs through listening to the dilemmas of the NGO sector, and identifying the steps in the procedure. As a result, a user-friendly explanatory report for NPOs was developed. The document was consulted and officially approved by the implementing institutions – CR and FIO. In addition, Konekt distributed information to over 900 CSOs including networks and the CSOs Resource Center. Additionally, the information is available on the Konekt website. As a result of the joint efforts of Konekt, FIO and the CR, 6,142 CSOs registered their Beneficial Owners