|GIABA DG Dr. Abdullahi Shehu says criminals are stepping-up their illicit actiities (Photo Credit: Modou S. Joof/2012)|
Following the implementation of regional and national Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures with emphasis on financial institutions, criminals look for vulnerable sectors through which they could launder their proceeds, according to Dr. Abdullahi Shehu.
The Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) explain on Wednesday that one such vulnerable sector is the designated non-financial instititions, business professions (DNFBPs).
DNFBPs comprises of accountants, real estate agents, lawyers, notaries, and other independent legal profesionals, he said during a GIABA-organised training on the AML/CFT requirements for accountants in English-speaking West Africa from 11 to 12 September, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia.
As part global efforts to ensure that DNFBPs are not misused for the purpose of laundering proceeds of crime, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) began to discuss the Gatekeeper Initiative as far back as 1999.
The initiative is a plan that places disclosure obligations on certain professionals like lawyers, accountants and auditors.
The FATF revised standards place obligations on accounting professionals to adopt and implement AML/CFT measures, including risk assessment and application of the risk-based approach to AML/CFT implementation.
Margaret I . Unubun, Executive Secretary of Association of Accountancy Bodies in West Africa, ABWA, says ABWA remains committed to any noble cause that re-embphasises the inextricable relationship between collective regional value systems and the overall level of economic growth and development of the region.
“As active participants in the economies of the nation states of GIABA, accountants have multiciplicity of roles in national and regional development,” she said. “Therefore, accountants should reaffirm the obligation to assist in this crusade.”
The effects of corruption in every facet of the economies of the countries represented (The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone) here cannot be overemphasised, Unubun said in a statem,ent read on her behalf.
Money laundering is simply the process of making the proceeds of crime to appear to have legitimate origin.
A crime which, Amadou Colley, Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, said has proven to be a menace to the world, and the efforts required in the prevention, detection and prosecution are enormous.
“This is so mainly because of the sophisticated techniques used by criminals to launder money,” he said.
Last year 2012, GIABA held a similar sensitization programme in Dakar, Senegal, for accountants from Francophone West Africa.
The training is meant to sensitise accountants and auditors on their roles in strengthening their countries’ AML/CFT regimes, following a similar training held last year for accountants in Francophone West Africa.
GIABA expects that at the end of the training, there will be improved compliance by accountants in the implementation of AML/CFT measures, especially enhanced quality and quantity of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) from members of the accounting profession to the Financial Intelligent Units, FIUs.
The Financial Action Task Force-styled regional body (FSRB), GIABA, also look forward to better cooperation between accountants and regulatory or supervisory bodies.
Written by Modou S. Joof
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