|PIX: Participants, facilitators, & Gambia's Minister of Finance|
Hon. Abdou Kolley, Gambia’s Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs has called on West African journalists to assist their various governments in exposing corrupt people and systems.
He said it is excepted of them to do their job by reporting issues in a professional manner, a role he believe only highly skilled investigative reporters can carry out effectively.
“Money-laundering and terrorism-financing are twin evils that are capable of destroying all the great efforts by any government in ensuring sustainable development,” said Minister Kolley, who was speaking at the beginning of a two-day Seminar on Anti-Money Laundering andCounter-Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) for Anglophone West African journalistson June 28-29, 2012 at the Laico Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, The Gambia.
The event, organized by the Sub-regional Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) is meant to expose journalists to the knowledge of AML/CFT framework, assist journalists to produce reports and articles or features of quality on AML/CFT issues, and improve network of journalists who will assist GIABA in disseminating information on the AML/CFT system in West Africa.
Thematic issues to be dealt with are the role of GIABA in fighting against Money Laundering in West Africa, the role of media in fighting against Money Laundering, method and technique in investigative journalism, use new technologies in investigative journalism; building cooperation and reporting inside source of information; forensic reporting; writing investigative features; including practical exercise and case studies.
On Thursday, Gambia’s finance minister said money laundering is a crime that is complex and not easy to detect, it is a menace causing serious consequence on political, social and economic development around the globe and no nation is spared.
“This criminal activity is usually fuelled by corrupt and greed thus undermining sustainable development aspirations of nations, due to the fact that the finances generated under this illegal and criminal manner are mainly utilized to sponsor illegal activities in society,” he argued.
He noted that the Government of the Gambia recognizes the pivotal role GIABA plays in safeguarding the economies and financial system of ECOWAS members States from the laundering of these proceeds of criminal origin.
He said: “The Seminar came at a time when Gambia government has stepped up, and continues to persistently pursue its fight against money laundering and related menaces. This is vigorously being pursued through the promulgation of tough anti money laundering laws with a view to also countering terrorism financing.”
The National Assembly passed the new Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Terrorist Financing Act, 2012 bring it in line with international best practice, he said.
Developing countries are constant targets and conduits for money laundering and terrorism funding, despite all effort and resources to combat this menace they are unfortunately, disproportionately at risk due to poor capacity and inadequate resource (human and institutional) to deal with the problem.
However, Mr. Kolley noted that the past twenty years have witnessed increased efforts and collaboration geared towards addressing the issue of money laundering and other forms of organized crimes that are constantly plaguing various societies.
“The media plays a vital role in awareness raising and disseminating AML/CFT messages,” said the GIABA Director General, Dr. Abdullahi Sehu, whose statement was delivered by GIABA’s Director of Programmes and Projects, Dr. ‘Buno E. Nduka.
“This seminar is one of the strategies of achieving the mandate of GIABA which is to protect national economies and financial systems of member states from laundering of proceeds of crimes.”
Dr. Shehu noted that the media serves as a change agent, particularly as an anti-corruption crusader. To ensure that the combat against economic and financial crime is effective, the citizens of the region should be fully aware f the consequence of this scourge.
“The best way to achieve this is through the active involvement of the media,” he said, adding: “The promotion of strategic partnerships with the evil society, including the media organisations remains a priority for GIABA within its Regional Strategic Framework.”
He stressed that the need to build the capacity of media practitioners and to have them as informed allies in the fight against these scourges is critical to overall success of the implementation of the AML/CFT framework in the region.
Speaking earlier, Mr. Essa AK Drammeh, Director of Financial Supervision Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG), said as far of the twin-crimes of money laundering and terrorist financing are concerned, the bottom-line in this fight is that “crime must not pay.”
“We must take the profits from crimes and disable the perpetrators of these inhumane activities which have horrendous effects on human existence,” said Mr. Drammeh, who also works as the acting GIABA National Correspondent in The Gambia.
Written by Modou S. Joof
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