|GIABA DG launches 2011 Report in Dakar, Senegal|
Although the Gambia is not a known money laundering (ML) hub in West Africa, the extent to which the prevalent predicate narcotic offences are related to money laundering is not clear.
What is clear is that the proceeds of crime in the country are mainly derived from drug trafficking, bribery and corruption, the tourism industry, foreign exchange transactions, and other related acquisitive crimes.
In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), said the magnitude or severity of these crimes is difficult to determine, citing factors contributing to an increase in the ML risk environment in the country such as porous borders, weak controls, prevailing poverty , dominance of cash transactions, poor know your customer compliance culture, massive inflows of tourists and anecdotal evidence of increasing drug related and other criminal activities.
The Gambia is a regional re-export centre where goods freely and legally traded are exposed to smuggling, but GIABA’s 2011 report said the country has limited capacity to fully monitor its porous borders.
“The lack of resources hinders law enforcement’s ability to combat possible smuggling, even though there is a political will to do so,” the report said. “Customs officials are, however, cooperating with their Senegalese counterparts to combat smuggling along their common border.”
“Official corruption remains a serious problem, although President Jammeh’s recent focus on economic development policies has led to increase anti-corruption efforts, including the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Commission,” said GIABA, a financial action task force-styled regional body (FASRB).
However, the Gambia was ranked 106 of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s (TI) 2009 global corruption perception index, but improved in TI’s rating from 91 in 2010 to 77 in 2011out of 182 countries surveyed worldwide.
“The Gambia continues to be vulnerable to activities of organised crime and drug trafficking,” GIABA said in its 2011 annual report. In June 2010, the country’s anti-illicit drug agency, the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) made one of the biggest drug seizures in Gambia’s history of over 2 tonnes, 340kg and 500g of cocaine estimated to worth over $1 billion.
|Picture: By MSJoof|
The report indicated that women and children are routinely subject to trafficking for sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, and the Gambia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. However, the revised anti-trafficking laws in October 2010 included the death penalty as punishment.
Despite some of the positive achievements by the Gambia, the anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime continues to face challenges.
According to GIABA, it is clear that all the support it provided to the Gambia Government has not led to the desired results. It said the country still needs support to develop its National AML/CFT Strategy; to strengthen the capacity of its financial intelligence unit (FIU), including addressing the issue of autonomy; and to implement the recommendations contained in the mutual evaluation report (MER).
The 2008 MER recommended among other things the amendment of the anti-money laundering laws.
Written by Modou S. Joof
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