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GIABA advocates more action against money laundering

By Babajide Komolafe
The Inter- Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, {GIABA}, has called on Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries to step up their approach in the fight against the menace of money laundering and terrorism financing in the sub-region.

Speaking at the annual briefing session for ECOWAS Ambassadors and development partners in Dakar, Senegal at the weekend, Director General, GIABA, Dr. Abdullahi Shehu, said that to deepen regional integration in line with ECOWAS’ Vision 2020 agenda, there was the urgent need to improve on the political commitment of member States for the implementation of Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes in the region.

He explained that the report of GIABA’s recent evaluation of member countries showed that most of them are still struggling with the implementation of the old Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards, stressing that the poor compliance is a pointer to the level of vulnerability of the financial systems to money laundering and other related crimes.

Of particular concern, he said, are preventive measures being taken by financial institutions and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs); institutional and other measures necessary in the system, and the 9 Special Recommendations on terrorism financing, stressing that the weaknesses in these areas portend a major source of worry in the fight against the scourges in the sub-region.

“Another area of success for GIABA is in the establishment of financial intelligence units. However, some of the FIUs in the region are operating sub-optimally, hence the capacity to receive, analyze and disseminate suspicious transaction reports that facilitate investigation and prosecution is impaired,” he said.

The GIABA boss, who described money laundering as a derivative, migratory and trans- border crime, emphasized that it requires very close collaboration between countries to checkmate the criminals involved, urging member states to pool resources together and support each other in the fight against the crime.

While acknowledging the support of the member States over the years, he outlined various efforts by GIABA to deliver on its mandate, and reiterated continued commitment to providing technical assistance to States and civil organizations to fight the crimes.

Shehu further disclosed that FATF, in collaboration with other stakeholders have undertaken the revision of the its Standards which expanded Politically Exposed Persons {PEPs} to include domestic PEPs and included tax crime as a new predicate offence, adding that the revised Standards places emphasis on continuous monitoring; identifying risks, developing policies and ensuring domestic coordination.

In her remark at the event, Minister of Justice, Senegal, Aminata Toure, said the priority of the new Senegalese government is the fight corruption and crimes in all its facets.

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