Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gambia toughens law against money launderers…

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An international money laundering operation linked to drug trafficking has been broken up on the Costa del Sol. Photo - EFE Archives

The Gambia Government has toughened the law against money laundering and financing of terrorism on Wednesday following the National Assembly’s endorsement of the “Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill, 2012.”
The new bill passed into law on June 27, 2012 is rather meant to fight “more effectively” crimes of money laundering and terrorism financing. It states that an individual who is liable in a case of money laundering offences shall be sentenced to a jail term of not less than 10 years.

In the case of a corporate body, it shall be fined nothing less than D10 million (over US$357,000) or an order for the revocation of the license of that organisation. 

In 2003, The Gambia enacted the “Money Laundering Act” which designated only 13 predicate offences for money laundering instead of the minimum 20 designated categories as recommended by Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The same 2003 Act also fall short of international standards as it did not include counter terrorist financing measures.  It neither aligns thresholds for money laundering offences with international best practices nor was the name (Money Laundering Act 2003) appropriate as it runs contrary to the intended purposes.

The Gambia, like her peers in the West African sub-region, is exposed to the risks of money laundering due to the porous borders, weak controls, the dominance of cash transactions, drug-related and other criminal flows.

However, the country’s Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr. Abdou Kolley, said The Gambia government remains highly committed to fight the twin menace of money laundering and financing terrorism and hence declared zero tolerance for drugs abuse, money laundering, and other criminal activities.

Gambia's Finance Minister, Mr. Abdou Kolley
“In an effort to remedy the situation, and bring our legislation in line with international standards, there is need to amend the current anti-money laundering legislation, including changing the name of the Money Laundering Act 2003 to Anti-Money Laundering Act 2012 and also upgrade it to the standard recommended by FATF,” Mr. Kolley told the National Assembly when he tabled the Bill before them for approval.

This is what necessitated the repealing of the Money Laundering Act 2003 and replacing it with the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill, 2012, he said before it was approved by the lawmakers “in view of its non-controversial nature.”

12 years ago, the sub-regional economic bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), established the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).   

The establishment of GIABA is meant to ensure the development of strategies to protect the economies of ECOWAS member states from the laundering of the proceeds of crime, improvement of measures and intensifying efforts to combat the laundering of proceeds of crime in West Africa and strengthening co-operation among its members.

In November 2008 the GIABA Plenary adopted a report identifying deficiencies in The Gambia’s legal and institutional frameworks with regards to combating money laundering and terrorism financing.

This, according to the Finance Minister Mr. Kolley, included inadequate coverage of predicate offences which needed to be broadened in line with the standards set by the FATF, the main international standard body setting on money laundering and terrorist financing. Source: The Voice

Written by Modou S. Joof 

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