Please note that updates from the Cook Islands Government regarding Covid-19 can be found at their official website here.
Media Release: 27 April 2020 - Strong confidence in Banking Sector - Cook Islands Financial Regulator
Louise Wittwer, Commissioner for the Cook Islands Financial Regulator, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) has strong confidence in the stability and integrity of the country’s banking sector to ride out this crisis and continue to serve its Cook Islands customers as they need.
Ms Wittwer stated “The banking sector is sound. It is my job to ensure stability and integrity of the banking sector is maintained throughout this period as well as after once we look to economic recovery – quite simply that means making sure Cook Islanders can feel assured that their money is safe in the bank, and that the banks are helping those Cook Islanders with their loans or financing as they might need. We (FSC) have done a number of things to make this happen such as:
- providing avenues for people to raise with us their issues, concerns or complaints regarding their dealings with our banks;
- stepping up our active monitoring of the banks,
- calling on outside expertise such as Reserve Bank of New Zealand and KPMG to provide advice on that monitoring and the information coming out of the banks to respond to emerging trends
- providing advice to government as part of their Economic Response Package development
- starting a public awareness campaign (FIU) on the increase of COVID-19 scams”
Ms Wittwer noted “We have strong working relationships with all our licensed banks and we are all working from the same page. They are working very hard to make sure they are serving their customers interests as responsibly as they can. They all have very good systems in place, excellent competencies within their teams”
More information on the FSC helpdesk for banking issues or FIU’s public awareness campaign on COVID-19 scams can be found on www.fsc.gov.ck www.covid19.gov.ck, or by phoning 20798 (FSC) or 29182 (FIU).
Media Release: 20 March 2020 - Financial Regulator's Response to Covid-19
The Financial Supervisory Commission is an independent government agency that supervises businesses across the financial industry, including the Banks.
The Commission is accountable to the DPM Honourable Mark Brown, as Minister of Finance, for the performance of its functions.
The Financial Supervisor’s primary role is to maintain the safety and soundness of Financial Institutions so that the Cook Islands community can have confidence that the Banks will meet their financial obligations.
In this regard, FSC Commissioner, Louise Wittwer stated:
While the Cook Islands, and rest of the world, deal with the unprecedented global pandemic Covid-19, the Financial Supervisory Commission has the utmost confidence that the Cook Islands financial system is in a sound position, with strong capital and liquidity, to get through this crisis. Unprecedented Times are upon us, but that does not mean we have not planned for Unprecedented Times. It is standard procedure for the FSC to scenario test the outcome of tourism stopping overnight, as occurred in Samoa in 2009 following the tsunami. And likewise, we regularly monitor the Bank’s Business Continuity Plan’s to ensure that the Cook Islands people would continue to have access to their banking services should Te Ara Maire Nui Drive be wiped out by a natural disaster.
The Commission is working in tandem with our licensed Banks to ensure that they meet the commitment they have made to the Cook Islands Government in respect to the Covid-19 Economic Response Package, released by my Minister, on Wednesday evening. I most certainly appreciate that the Bank’s need time to put in place the appropriate mechanisms to properly provide these services to their customers. In this regard, the Commission seeks the public’s patience please.
I understand that there is a lot of unease and angst in the community at this challenging time, but I wish to make it very clear to the Cook Islands people that we are here to ensure that the Bank’s honour the commitment they have made to the Crown in respect to our Covid-19 Economic Response Package. To that end, the Commission is providing an avenue for Cook Islanders to raise any concerns, issues or complaints they may have in respect to the response received from their bank, in Cook Islands Maori or English, to these contacts:
For ANZ Bank
For BCI Bank
For BSP Bank
APEC Financial Regulators Training Initiative Regional Seminar on Regulation and Supervision of Financial Services through Mobile Electronic Money and other Digital Payments
On 16 – 19 September 2019 the Financial Supervisory Commission co-hosted with the Asian Development Bank a Regional Seminar on e-money and digital payment systems. Other countries that attended included Cambodia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Solomon Islands. The topics covered included access to digital finance products, the risks in using electronic wallets and digital payment systems, and the presentation of case studies from Cambodia and Papua New Guinea regarding establishing e-money systems and the challenges of agent networks. Each jurisdiction presented on the products and services available in their countries and the regulatory environment that they operate in.
Mutual Evaluation Report 2018
The Cook Islands received a very positive Mutual Evaluation Report for their 2017/2018 mutual evaluation by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) which was published on 22 October 2018. The Commission was the lead agency for the Cook Islands mutual evaluation.
The Cook Islands has been rated one of the best in the world for technical compliance with 38 out of the 40 FATF Recommendations receiving Largely Compliant or Compliant. In terms of the implementation and effectiveness of its laws and systems when measured against the FATF’s 11 Immediate Outcomes, the Cook Islands attained 5 substantial ratings, 4 moderate ratings and 2 low ratings. This resulted in the Cook Islands being one of only three jurisdictions within the APG membership to be placed in the “regular” follow up process, a very rare achievement.
This outstanding result for the Cook Islands has been achieved through the commitment and hard work of the Cook Islands government, its crown agencies and the private sector. It is anticipated that the Cook Islands’ MER will be recognised internationally, given its independence and comprehensive nature, whilst giving great comfort to governments, institutions and businesses alike when dealing with the Cook Islands and its financial services industry. The published Mutual Evaluation Report can be read and downloaded here.
National Risk Assessment Report
The Board and Management are pleased to publish the National Risk Assessment Report 2015 on money laundering, terrorism financing and serious offences in the Cook Islands, adopted by Cabinet on 10 March 2015.