Vanuatu committed to the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing by becoming a founding member of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (in short, the APG) in 1997. This sub-regional body – APG is an inter-governmental organisation (now consisting of 41 member jurisdictions) focused on ensuring that its members effectively implement the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”) 40 Recommendations against money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing.

As a committed member, Vanuatu was subject to a peer-group onsite visit in 2005 and 2015. After each visits, Vanuatu was noted to have some strategic deficiencies on its commitment and was required to rectify its AML&CTF legal framework and effectively implement the recommendations.

Given the 10 years of insignificant progress, Vanuatu was referred to the FATF in October 2015 and was formally placed on the FATF Grey Listing in February 2016.

Progress Achieved so far

Vanuatu and the Joint Group (FATF sub-Group mandated to monitor Vanuatu's implementation) have agreed on an Action Plan ('FATF Action Plan') to improve Vanuatu compliance with the FATF Recommendations.

In response, Vanuatu took its first action by establishing the National AML&CTF Coordinating Committee ('NCC'), as provided for in the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act No. 13 of 2014 (as amended), to coordinate Vanuatu's progress in meeting the FATF Action Plan. Two Working Groups – Law Enforcement and Supervisory were also established to execute the FATF Action Plan.

A total of 30 pieces of bills were approved by Parliament in June and November 2017 and were brought into effect and force. These legislations not only align Vanuatu's AML&CTF legal framework with the FATF Action Plan but with the FATF 40 Recommendations.

Prior to the aforementioned reforms, there were secrecy issues causing obstacles to accessing information for relevant authorities. Accessibility to the information and its integrity is now being improved.

The AML reforms have shifted the competent authority of mutual legal assistances from the Attorney General to the Public Prosecutor. The contact details for the Public Prosecutor Office are as follows:

Office of the Public Prosecutor
PMB 9035
Joint Court, Port Vila
Phone: +678 22271

With these legislations now enforceable and in effect, the NCC is rigorously monitoring the implementation efforts undertaken by the Working Groups and each line agencies.

Additionally, the Vanuatu Financial Intelligence Unit ('VFIU') has broad power to receive and participate in domestic and international cooperation.

Vanuatu has received indication that it will commence the FATF exit process after the FATF Plenary in February 2017.