Saturday, April 16, 2011

Money laundering could have devastating effects on national economies

Director General WAIFEM Prof. Akpan H. Ekp
The Central Bank of The Gambia (CGB) is hosting a week-long Regional Course on Combating Money Laundering and other Financial Crimes in Banjul from April 11-15, 2011.
The course is organised by the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, WAIFEM for 30 participants drawn from financial institutions, security units and the media from Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. The Voice Newspaper’s Modou S. Joof and Amadou Bah reports on the views expressed by economic think-tanks.

“Money laundering could have devastating effects on national economies, and while this menace can occur in any country, it could lead to serious economic and social consequences particularly for developing countries,” Amadou Colley, the Governor of Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) said.
“This is because developing economies tend to be small and therefore, more susceptible to disruption from criminal influences.”
Mr. Colley said money laundering activities tends to undermine financial systems thereby putting into question its integrity. It has adverse macroeconomic effects and affects the exchange rate through large transfers and capital flows.
According to him, unchecked money laundering may engender contempt of the law, undermining public confidence in the legal and financial systems, which in turn promotes other economic crime such as fraud, exchange control violation and tax evasion.
The act, which he described as a global problem, requires an appropriate response at international, regional and national levels. This is why the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was established to serve as the principal international standard setting body.
He also noted that the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering (GIABA), which is providing technical support to this course, is mandated to provide guidance to all ECOWAS Member countries and ensure that they develop robust anti-money laundering systems.
He added that The Gambia has made significant efforts at beefing up its machinery to combat the social evils of money laundering and terrorism financing (AML/CFT) and that the CBG, which is an implementing partner of the AML/CFT through the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), is working closely with banks to put in place measures not only for customer due diligence but the detection of suspicious transactions for reporting purposes.
When he took his turn, the Director General of WAIFEM Prof. Akpan H. Ekpo said the course is in response to identify gaps in capacity of officials responsible for macroeconomic policy designs and implementation.
WAIFEM was established in July 1996 by the Central Banks of The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone and its mission is to develop on a sustainable basis, the expertise in the field of macroeconomic, debt and financial sector management among the staff of the Central Banks.
And in this regard, Prof. Ekpo said WAIFEM adopts a holistic and an integrated approach to capacity building in the delivery methodology of its capacity building activities.
“Financial system stability is a major prerequisite for economic growth and development, and money laundering is a key threat to financial stability in any economy more so to small and fragile economies in our sub-region,” he stressed.
“Due to the number of the predicate offences of money laundering common in our region, WAIFEM organizes such a course on a yearly basis to continuously expose participant to the techniques of combating the menace.”

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