Monday, September 2, 2013

GIABA responds to low performance of financial sector in West Africa

English: Logo of The Intergovernmental Action ...
The Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A low performance of the financial sector in West Africa has triggered a response from the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, GIABA.

GIABA’s first round of mutual evaluation of Member States (MS) showed a low financial performance - prompting it to train financial and regulatory institutions in the region on the “revised anti-money laundering standards”

The mutual evaluation revealed that low compliance of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) standards within financial institutions (FIs) has an adverse implication on regional efforts in combating money laundering and terrorist financing, GIABA said.


“It has therefore become necessary to enhance the capacity of operators in the financial sector to strengthen the implementation of AML/CFT regime in the region and, ultimately, achieve GIABA’s overall objectives,” it added.

Held in Lagos, Nigeria, the August 28-29 training on the revised Financial Action Task Force, FATF, Recommendations, is expected to engender better compliance to the revised FATF Recommendation, application of Risk-Based Approach in FIs business model, reduction in the vulnerability of the financial system, improved quantity and quality of STRs filed to Financial Intelligence Units, FIUs, and increase in the detection, deterrence and disruption of money laundering activities.

The primary objective of the training which drew 140 participants from The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, is to enhance the capacity of financial institutions to enable them fulfill their obligations under the revised FATF recommendations.

In February 2012, the FATF adopted the revised FATF 40 Recommendations which place enormous obligations on financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professionals (DNFBPs).

According to GIABA, the revised standards place premium on the adoption of risk-based approach to Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) compliance function.

It is designed to assist financial institutions not only to implement AML/CFT measures on a risk-sensitive basis, but also to ensure prioritization of actions in addressing issues relating to Customer Due Diligence, Record Keeping, Politically Exposed Persons, Correspondent Banking, New Technologies, Wire Transfers, and Reporting of Suspicious Transactions.

The training comes at the back of a continuous decline in value of Gambia’s national currency, the Dalasi, against major foreign currencies.

As recent as May 2013, the Dalasi (D) depreciated against the British Pound by 12.62 per cent, the US dollar by 11.87 per cent and the Euro by 12 per cent, according to the economic think tank, the International Monetary Fund, IMF.

Amid rising inflation, in June, the Central Bank of The Gambia suspended three foreign exchange dealers - Ria, Money Express, and W@ri. The suspension of the three money transfer operators (MTOs) began on June 21, 2013.

On August 13, The Gambia revoked the licences of all 56 registered forex bureaus in the country. A few has since resumed operations.

Written by Modou S. Joof
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