FIU software gathers dust for lack of compatible hardwareSoftware procured by Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) as part of plans to automate the Financial Information Unit (FIU) has remained useless for almost two years because of the central bank’s failure to purchase necessary hardware.
Software procured by Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) as part of plans to automate the Financial Information Unit (FIU) has remained useless for almost two years because of the central bank’s failure to purchase necessary hardware.
FIU is a body that keeps records of suspicious financial transactions and coordinates with other national and international anti-money laundering bodies. It is responsible for receiving, processing, analysing and disseminating financial information and intelligence on suspected money laundering and terrorist financing activities to departments concerned for investigation.
Automating FIU is part of the commitment Nepal has made to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global anti-money laundering body.
In September 2014, the central bank had purchased the goAML software developed by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). However, the failure to purchase compatible hardware has made the goAML software obsolete.
According to NRB Acting Executive Director Ramesh Kumar Pokharel, the 2015 earthquakes damaged the NRB building and the priority of the central bank shifted to regular operation.
NRB, however, is gearing up to complete the hardware procurement process. “We are in the process of purchasing the hardware and it is expected to be completed within a couple of weeks,” said Pokharel. “Around nine vendors have filed bids and we have almost completed their technical evaluation.”
Meanwhile, NRB has provided the format of the data field to banks and financial institutions (BFIs) and once the hardware and software are installed, FIU will start receiving information from the BFIs.
“We have designed the data filed in such a way that suspicious financial transactions and transactions that have crossed the threshold level are registered in the goAML software,” said an NRB source. “Once the BFIs feed the information of such transactions in the system, they are not allowed to retrieve such information again.”
FIU has already issued a directive to BFIs to report transactions worth more than Rs1 million and any suspicious transaction.
According to the UNODC website, the goAML software was developed by the Information Technology Service, UNODC, in partnership with the UNODC Global Programme against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism. An integrated software solution, goAML was developed specifically for the use of FIUs.
The system integrates 14 separate functions into one package. The functions include data collection, clean-up, ad hoc queries and matching, statistical reports, structured analysis, profiling, rule-based analysis, workflow system, task assignment tracking and document management.
Other features include an intelligence file management system, data integration, data acquisition, charting, diagramming and an intelligence report writer.