Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Banjul host sub-regional anti-money laundering seminar for journalists

Journalists from Anglophone West Africa will converge in the Gambian capital, Banjul this Thursday for a “Sensitization seminar on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT)”.

The June 28-29 seminar is organised by the sub-regional Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) and hosted by a Network of Journalists reporting on money laundering and related financial crimes in The Gambia.  The network will be officially launched at the seminar.

The objectives of the seminar are to expose journalists to the knowledge of AML/CFT framework; to assist journalists to produce reports and articles or features of quality on AML/CFT issues; and to improve the network of journalists who will assist GIABA in disseminating information on the AML/CFT systems in West Africa.

The broad themes of the seminar kicking off on Thursday include: The role of GIABA in the fight against money laundering in west Africa; The role of the media in the fight against money laundering; Methods and techniques of investigative journalism; Use of new technologies in investigative journalism; Building cooperation and reporting inside source of information; Forensic reporting; Writing investigative features; including practical exercise and case studies. 

“The course shall be delivered by experts with extensive knowledge of AML/CFT issues,” said GIABA, a financial action task force-styled regional body (FSRB) established by the sub-regional economic bloc, ECOWAS in 2000.

Mandated to protect the economies of member States from the laundering of the proceeds of crimes, GIABA said: “The fight against economic and financial crimes is an enormous task requiring concerted, coordinated, cooperative and collaborative efforts by all several stakeholders each with distinct but complementary role.”

The seminar is being held on the backdrop of what GIABA’s Director General Dr. Abdulahi Shehu regarded as “unfortunate outcomes” of the mutual evaluation reports of assessed ECOWAS countries showing low level compliance with international AML/CFT standards, particularly the Revised FAFT 40 Recommendations. This, he said, is due to poor understanding of the AML/CFT requirements. 

“Central to the effective implementation of AML/CFT regime are the mass media, particularly in the dissemination of the effects of these scourges on the economy and propagation of the best practices on AML/CFT measures,” Dr. Shehu added.

GIABA admitted that addressing the identified deficiencies in the AML/CFT measures in the region requires “robust communication and advocacy programmes” to enlighten all strata of the society. 

It is against this background that the Secretariat has identified the journalists as major stakeholders in the global fight against anti-money laundering and terrorist financing, said Dr. Shehu, announcing the Seminar on AML/CFT for journalists from English-speaking ECOWAS countries to be held at the Laico Atlantic hotel in Banjul.     

During an April 2012 Interactive Session for Media Executives and Journalists in West Africa, held in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, GIABA urged journalists to team up with other agencies involved in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing in order to step-up fight against financial and related crimes.

Both journalists and other agencies should collectively ensure that appropriate measures are taken against the twin crimes in a more harmonized and concerted manner, GIABA, media executives and journalists agreed in a communiqué.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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