Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Gambia should quickly finalise national anti-money laundering strategy

GIABA’s director of research, Mr Mu’Azu Umaru speaking on behalf on director general of GIABA, Adama Coulibaly - Photo Credit: MSJoof/TNBES/GNJaML
The director general of the Inter-governmental action group against money laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Adama Coulibaly, has advised The Gambia to “quickly finalise” its national anti-money laundering and counter-financing terrorism (AML/CFT) strategy.
Gambia has chosen to develop a national strategy that will serve as a driving force for deepening of its AML/CFT system.

In a statement read on his behalf during an April 1-3 “stakeholders workshop to develop the strategy” at a local hotel in Kololi, The Gambia, Mr Coulibaly said the timing is auspicious as the second round of evaluations for GIABA member states is set to begin in the last quarter of 2015.

Home run strategy

“The strategy will be a home run and an acceleration pedal for the country,” he said. “GIABA stands ready to provide the necessary support to The Gambia in order to enable it accelerate the pace of implementing the strategy when approved by the national authorities.”

But, he said the relevant action plans need to be developed as quickly as possible to enable the full implementation of the strategy. 

“It is equally important for The Gambia t adequately in the implementation of the strategy and put in place adequate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure full accountability,” added Coulibaly, who was represented by GIABA’s director of research, Mr Mu’Azu Umaru.

Rectify outstanding issues 

Kebba Touray, Gambia’s Minister of Finance, said the technical support provided by GIABA in the development of the national strategy is commendable.

“It will help the country to rectify the outstanding issues highlighted in the GIABA Mutual Evaluation Report on The Gambia published in 2008,” he said in a statement delivered on his behalf by Ousman Sonko, Minister of the Interior.

That Mutual Evaluation Report had recommended for Gambia to adjust it laws on money laundering (the Money Laundering Act 2003 and the Anti-Terrorism Act 2002) among other policy issues.

Location map of the Gambia Equirectangular pro...
Location map of the Gambia Equirectangular projection. Geographic limits of the map: N: 14.3° N S: 12.6° N W: 17.0° W E: 13.6° W (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mr Touray said The Gambia has made significant efforts at beefing up its machinery to combat the social evils of money laundering and terrorism financing.

He explains that “In 2012, The Gambia enacted a comprehensive Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Terrorism Financing Act. 

“The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has been established and the Director of the FIU was appointed in November 2012. The Government has provided budget to the FIU for its effective operation.”

‘Made steady progress’

Gambia’s FIU Director Yahya Camara said the country is making “steady progress” to rectify the existing gaps – including receipt and analysis of suspicious transactions for investigation, establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Committee, and issuance of Guidelines to reporting entities among others.

However, he said despite the achievements, there are key deficiencies which remain outstanding.

These include: “the non-ratification of the 1999 UN International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism Financing, non-ratification of the 2003 UN Convention against Corruption, the exclusion of cash transaction reporting from AML/CTF Act 2012.

“No AML/CTF obligations on NGOs, inadequate AML/CFT trainings for bank staff, foreign [exchange] bureaus and insurance companies, low investment in technology for AML/CFT measures, no ML/TF risk assessment has been conducted, and  lack of adoption of appropriate internal control measures against ML/TF.”

Gambia's solicitor general and legal secretary, Basirou Mahoney, speaking on behalf of Justice Minister Mama Fatima Singhateh (Photo credit: MSJoof/TNBES/GNJaML)

Predicate crimes criminalised

Mama Fatima Singhateh, Minister of Justice, said the predicate crimes [offences that lead to] of money laundering have been criminalised in The Gambia’s criminal code and other legislations.

Speaking though her solicitor general, Basirou Mahoney, she said the country will continue to assess its laws and take appropriate measures in putting in place a strong legal regime to appropriately fight money laundering, terrorism financing an all predicate crimes.

Money laundering is simply the process of making the proceeds of crime to appear to have legitimate origin, according to GIABA.

The proceeds or wealth to be laundered can be generated from a number of criminal acts including trafficking in drugs, sexual exploitation, trafficking in humans, bribery and corruption, fraud, counterfeiting currency, and smuggling among others.

In the next two days, security agencies, bankers and other players in the financial sector will work to develop what would become Gambia’s National AML/CFT Strategy.

This entry first appeared on GNJaML, click HERE

Written by Modou S. Joof

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