Countries/Jurisdictions of Primary Concern - Mauritania

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Report

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania has a largely informal and under-developed economy. Its economic system suffers from a combination of weak government oversight, lax financial auditing standards, a large informal trade sector, porous borders, and corruption in government and the private sector. Only an estimated four percent of Mauritanian adults have bank accounts, and informal banking and financial systems remain vulnerable to exploitation. In recent years, Mauritania has become a transshipment point for cocaine from South America intended for the European market. Smuggling, trafficking in vehicles, parallel financial networks, and the provision of logistical support for organized international drug traffickers are all serious problems. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania has continued an aggressive campaign against terrorist networks, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

For additional information focusing on terrorist financing, please refer to the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism, which can be found at: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/

DO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ENGAGE IN CURRENCY TRANSACTIONS RELATED TO INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING THAT INCLUDE SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF US CURRENCY; CURRENCY DERIVED FROM ILLEGAL SALES IN THE U.S.; OR ILLEGAL DRUG SALES THAT OTHERWISE SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECT THE U.S.: NO

CRIMINALIZATION OF MONEY LAUNDERING:
“All serious crimes” approach or “list” approach to predicate crimes: All serious crimes
Are legal persons covered: criminally: YES civilly: YES

KNOW-YOUR-CUSTOMER (KYC) RULES:
Enhanced due diligence procedures for PEPs: Foreign: YES Domestic: YES
KYC covered entities: Banks, money changers, and money remitters; lawyers, notaries, accountants, and auditors; real estate and travel agents; dealers of high-value art and precious metals and stones; and non-governmental organizations

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS:
Number of STRs received and time frame: 5: January 1 - November 17, 2013
Number of CTRs received and time frame: 0 in 2013
STR covered entities: Banks, money exchanges, and remittance offices; lawyers, notaries, accountants, and auditors; real estate and travel agents; dealers of high-value art and precious metals and stones; and non-governmental organizations

MONEY LAUNDERING CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS/CONVICTIONS:
Prosecutions: 0 in 2013
Convictions: 0 in 2013

RECORDS EXCHANGE MECHANISM:
With U.S.: MLAT: NO Other mechanism: YES
With other governments/jurisdictions: YES

Mauritania is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a FATF-style regional body. Its most recent mutual evaluation report can be found at: http://www.menafatf.org/TopicList.asp?cType=train

ENFORCEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES AND COMMENTS:

While Mauritania has been successful in creating a legal and institutional framework to fight financial crimes, there remain many challenges to its successful implementation, especially given Mauritania’s cash-based and informal economy. All natural and legal persons are covered under Mauritania’s AML/CFT laws and are subject to both criminal and civil penalties, depending upon the crime committed. In 2012, the Office of the Inspector General of the State and the Financial Information Analysis Commission (CANIF), Mauritania’s financial intelligence unit, were empowered to lead efforts to identify, prevent, and reduce corrupt practices and financial crimes, including financial crimes linked to narcotics and terrorism financing networks. In 2013, Mauritanian police started receiving training on terrorism financing investigations.

The CANIF has direct responsibility for overseeing AML/CFT activities. CANIF falls under the jurisdiction of the Central Bank of Mauritania and is unique in Mauritania in its comprehensive “whole of government” approach. CANIF includes representatives of the Ministries of Finance and Justice, as well as the customs authority, national police, and Gendarmerie working together to counter financial crimes. CANIF releases annual reports on financial crime in Mauritania.

Although all recommended entities are covered under the AML law, current regulations only require banks and formal money exchange and remittance offices to report suspicious transactions; however, few do. Moreover, monitoring informal financial markets remains a challenge in Mauritania. Mauritanian authorities are aware of these issues and are working to formalize financial transactions to the extent possible and to devise mechanisms to prevent the exploitation of the informal financial system for illegal purposes. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania should take steps to expand reporting and KYC requirements to additional financial and non-financial entities, as well as take steps to enforce compliance with mandatory reporting already in effect. Mauritanian law enforcement and the judiciary should investigate and prosecute money laundering and related crimes.