Economic and financial crime distorts values and standards and creates injustice, and in whatever form it is manifested, it is often motivated by human greed, Dr. Abdulahi Shehu Yibaikwal, GIABA Director General said on Tuesday.
He was speaking at a book presentation on "Strategies and Techniques of Prosecuting Economic and Financial Crimes" organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money laundering in West Africa (GIABA) on June 5, 2012 in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
GIABA, West Africa’s leading antimony laundering and terrorism financing agency is mandated to promote the rule of law. One of its priorities is to assist member states to enact legislation of acceptable international standard, and with its active prodding and guidance, all member states have promulgated laws criminalising money laundering.
On Tuesday, Dr. Shehu said the proceeds of crime provide the means by which new stages of organized crime can be financed.
“Illicit assets are used to bribe officials and to impede effective criminal justice,” said Dr. Shehu, who added that “When organised crime applies its true financial muscle, the proper functioning of the socio-economic and political systems can be impaired.”
This, he argues, denies legitimate businesses free and fair competition. He said economic and financial crimes, manifested in various dimensions and with harmful effects, are evils which threaten the foundations of any civilized society and must be eliminated.
Dr. Shehu also look into the future, and conclude that “We can only be certain of one thing - there will continue to be changes in the conditions and circumstances which form the context in which we fight economic and financial crimes within the rule of law.”
But for the crusade to remain effective, he stressed that we must strengthen the capacities of investigators, prosecutors and also judges to adapt appropriately, to take into account these changes.
GIABA’s technical assistance programme consisting of provisions of legal advisory services, training for investigators and prosecutors, as well as capacity building programmes for judges, will continue to target the specific areas.
“…areas that we can make the maximum impact in our regional fight against organized crime, in particular the laundering of the proceeds of crime and the financing of terrorism,” according to its director general,” Dr. Abdulahi Shehu.
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 against fight 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, it said in a communiqué.
Written by Modou S. Joof
Follow on Facebook: The-North-Bank-Evening-Standard