Banks Positively Reassessing Liberia

 

There has been a rising stream of good news coming out of the Republic of Liberia. The country recently celebrated a ten year milestone of peace. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, elected in 2005 as the first elected female head of state in Africa was re-elected to a second term in 2011. The President was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Other Liberian accomplishments include:

 

• Corporations
• Election to the UN’s IMO (International Maritime Organization) council
• White listed by OECD Global Forum
• Leading country in extractive industry transparency Initiative
• World’s largest quality Ship Registry

 

The treatment of Liberian business entities has not always kept pace with the changes in the country. There is a misconception internationally that there are sanctions against Liberia. There are no International nor US Treasury sanctions against Liberia. UN, EU and US Sanctions all specifically target the associates of former President Taylor and his administration. In fact, US Treasury sanctions state:

Title 31 Part 593 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations: “The sanctions set forth in E.O. 13348 and implemented in the Regulations are targeted sanctions directed at the regime of former President Charles Taylor. The sanctions are not directed against the country of Liberia, the Government of Liberia, or the Central Bank of Liberia. They do not prohibit the provision of banking services to Liberia, including the maintenance of correspondent banking relationships with Liberian banks, unless the bank in question is a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the Regulations.” (Link: PDF Sanction Overview)

 

International and US Treasury sanctions do not target Liberian corporations. In fact there are no sanctioned Liberian nonresident corporations or Liberian-flag vessels.

In addition, please note:

 

• FATF – Liberia is not listed as a High-Risk or non-Cooperative jurisdiction
• US INCSR Report – Liberia is not listed as a jurisdiction of Primary concern or a Jurisdiction of Concern

“There are no confirmed cases of money laundering or terrorist financing in the Liberian banking sector.” – June 2013 Report

• Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)

• Liberia was the first African country to achieve EITI compliance (2008)
• Liberia was the first country to include timber revenues in EITI

 

• Largest Quality ship Register

• Qualship 21 – US Coast Guard
• White List – Paris MOU
• Low Risk Flag – Tokyo MOU

•Top Ranking in Flag State Performance Tables:

• BIMCO
• INTERCARGO
• INTERTANKO
• International Chamber of Shipping
• International Shipping Federation
• OCIMF / SIRE
• RIGHTSHIP (Highest possible score +5)

Over $240 Billion in vessel assets secured by active mortgages

 

The Registry is operated by LISCR, LLC, a US-owned and operated company under an exclusive agreement with the Government of Liberia. LISCR and its international regional offices all comply with the requirements of US and UN sanctions policies. This includes screening against the OFAC SDN List as well as blocks against targeted countries (i.e., Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, etc.).
 
One issue concerning some users of Liberian corporations are encountering is the occasional difficulty in opening bank accounts. The reasons cited in relation to the jurisdiction of the corporate applicant are often out of date and incorrect. In some cases the same banks that have advised our clients that they do not accept account applications from Liberian corporations are the same banks that actively loan billions of dollars to Liberian corporations operating in the shipping industry.
 
Given the dramatic changes taking place in Liberia over the last decade, we hope this article will prompt a reassessment of the acceptability by banks of clients using Liberian corporate entities.
 
You can find additional details in the recently completed Registry due diligence self-assessment Please click this link (PDF Link – Note: This report is updated as of June 2016) or the below image to view the report.
 
Bank Overview
 
We invite you contact us if you have been refused a bank account simply due to the applicant being a Liberian Corporate entity. We can provide information to assist you and if provided with relevant details can contact the bank directly and attempt to positively resolve the situation. Please keep in mind that account applicants must meet their bank’s due diligence requirements. Please contact the Registry for any additional information or with any questions that you may have.
 
Stephen Frey
Director
Liberian Corporate Registry