Friday, December 28, 2012

Watchful GIABA says current AML/CFT framework may force money launderers and extremist groups to adopt tactical changes

A vigilant Dr Abdullahi Shehu says anti-money laundering laws must be re-examine
Dr Abdullahi Shehu has observed that the current Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework may force money launderers and extremist groups to make frequent tactical changes and thus produces more grievances or fertile grounds for the recruitment of new set of criminals.  

As a result, the Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) is calling for a re-examining of laws against money laundering and financing of terrorism in the sub-region. 

He was presenting a paper on the challenges of implementing counter-financing of terrorism regimes in West Africa during a Dec 11-13, 2012 training workshop on AML/CFT for North and West African states organised by the Swiss Confederation and the Federal Republic of Nigeria in collaboration with GIABA, in Abuja, Nigeria.  

“Most parts of the AML/CFT framework of countries in the sub-region are products of imperfect and incomplete information, hence the need to establish and address the root causes of terrorism to ensure the successes recorded by the AML/CFT framework are enduring, Dr Shehu said.

There is a need to re-examine the anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures in West African countries to ensure they do not induce superficial compliance by countries, said the director general of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Dr Abdullahi Shehu.

“The benefits of implementing effective AML/CFT regimes are enormous,” he argued, “GIABA will continue to support its members to implement effective AML/CFT measures that facilitate optimal deployment of resources and proper sequencing of intervention activities.”

He also stress that the adoption of international AML/CFT standards is not the “magic wand” towards eradicating money laundering and financing terrorism, but they are milestones towards building enabling framework that would provide the roadmap for achieving the ultimate goal of a crime-free society.

Gambia’s sub-standard law

On June 27, the Gambia Government toughened the law against money laundering and financing of terrorism following the National Assembly’s endorsement of the “Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill 2012.”
The new law 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), recommendations that establishes a comprehensive, integrated and impact-oriented approach in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

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.

GIABA is an arm of the sub-regional economic bloc, ECOWAS, was established 12 years ago to fight money laundering and terrorist financing in West Africa. The Dakar-based institution is mandated to develop strategies and mechanisms for the prevention and control of the twin crimes in the sub-region. 

Written by Modou S. Joof

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