‘Detecting financial crime is critical to economy’


Over 60 personnel from the Division of Customs, the Division of Revenue and Taxation, the Department of Public Safety, and the Commonwealth Casino Commission completed financial crime training with the Oceania Customs Organization last Friday.

CNMI Customs director Jose Mafnas said that collaboration is key to tackling financial crime and enhancing law enforcement.

“We’ve established that we must begin meeting frequently so that we can tackle these issues. If agencies are divided, criminal activities become stronger, but if we work together we are at an advantage,” Mafnas said.

Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero said that preserving the integrity of the gaming industry as well as the safety of the community and employees is supported.

“We’ve spoken about legislation to reflect our current needs as we move forward and there is room to share critical law enforcement information. One thing that is the most valuable is we have met face-to-face, and we all have a duty to protect the Commonwealth. We all have many responsibilities but the CCC maintains its responsibility to track the movement of money and report activities. We want to make sure we protect our community while being fair and transparent. This is why consistent training is a priority and together we can identify what type of training we need throughout the year for all our agencies,” Deleon Guerrero said, while giving thanks to the Division of Customs, gaming commissioners, and CCC personnel.

Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson said the Oceania Customs Organization has been instrumental in providing the knowledge and training to address regional concerns over the year.

“Training of our Customs officers has increased and has consistently benefitted our detection efforts and the deterrence of crime. Through the OCO, we are addressing money laundering, drug and human trafficking…With OCO operations manager Tevita Tupuo and Roy Lagolago, along with strengthened inter-agency collaboration, law enforcement, border security and enhanced trade and revenue management will improve,” Larson said.

The casino industry in the Commonwealth is still in its infancy, said Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres, but maintaining the integrity of its growth is needed.

“We continue to be mindful of current trends to equip our borders, and strengthen communication and training for all personnel across agencies toward a common goal. I would like to reiterate that detecting financial crimes is crucial to the integrity of our overall economy. We want to ensure that our agencies receive what they need to strengthen regulations and enforcement. This means consistent collaboration, training, appropriate legislation, and sustaining our resources to increase these efforts moving forward. With the growth of the economy in mind, the safeguarding of our community will always remain a priority. I extend my appreciation to all collaborating agencies to continue this capacity building and increased foresight for our entire community,” Torres said. (PR)

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