GIABA to unveil new strategic plan against financial crimes, money laundering
The Inter-governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) is set to unveil the fourth strategic plan in the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism in the country.
The Director General, (GIABA), Adama Coulibaly, who spoke at the third regional sensitisation workshop for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financial of Terrorism (AML/CFT) in Lagos, condemned financial crimes and money laundering in the West Africa region.
Coulibaly expressed concerns over the low conviction rates in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing in the region, adding that freezing and confiscation of properties, incomes and assets from organised crime organisations remained a major challenge, which GIABA must incorporate in its fourth strategic plan (2016-2020) which is being finalised. “At a time when our region is grappling with the activities of terrorist groups, which posed a greater threat to its stability, it is necessary to review and analyse anti-terrorism strategies, not only through their integrated, coherent, and participatory features, but also through their resilience capacity, culture and promotion of citizenry values as well as democratic best practices,” he stated.
He said: “The ECOWAS region is facing real security challenge mainly linked to the upsurge in extremism, terrorism and all forms of illegal trafficking, ranging from drugs, weapons, prohibited products to human beings or their organs. “The fight against money laundering and terrorist financing should be analysed within the overall framework of the security of states; it is a collective struggle that calls for individual and community involvement in an inclusive manner.”
Speaking further, he also listed some of the adherent of GIABA since inception in year 2000, saying “GIABA has implemented three major strategic plans from 2007-2014.
The outcomes of those strategies are; all its member states have a body of AML/CFT legislative and regulatory laws that in varying degrees are in compliance with the 40 FATF recommendations; sixteen (16) GIABA member states have Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) that are operational in the domain within each member state.”
He urged all stakeholders to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing in order to strengthen the region’s security and good governance mechanisms and also create a conductive environment for investment, as well as for job and wealth creation for the benefit of the youth in particular.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, who was represented by Professor Osita Ogbu, stressed the need for concerted efforts and collaboration among all stakeholders to combat the risks associated with money laundering and terrorist financing.
He said: “The fight against money laundering and terrorists financing requires concerted efforts and collaboration among all stakeholders. “The case for societal mobilisation becomes even more strident in the vulnerability of West Africa states to money laundering and terrorists financing, due to the geography of the region, porous borders and existence of weak institutions and fragile states.”
Also, Director, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and GIABA National Correspondent, Francis Usani, explained that GIABA, which is the acronym for the intergovernmental action group against money laundering in West Africa, is a specialised institution of the ECOWAS, responsible for strengthening the capacity of member states towards the prevention and control of money laundering and terrorist financing within the West African Sub-Region.
To combat corruption ‘one sector approach’ would not be effective in bringing noticeable impact, taking into consideration the multi-dimensional nature of this crime, corruption is one of the predicate offences to money laundering, therefore, your approach to this menace should be simultaneous,” he stated.
He emphasized that money laundering and terrorist financing is inescapable and has momentous consequences. “It is one of the major obstacles to overall development and economic prosperity in any country,” he said.
The workshop, which is the third in a series, is a follow-up to similar workshops for civil society organisations, held in Dakar, Senegal, and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
The workshop covered overview of AML/CFT regimes in West Africa, the role of GIABA as a regional initiative, trends of ML/TF in the region, threats of ML/TF to peace and security in the region, threats of ML/TF to sustainable development and impact on youth employment.
The objectives of the workshop are to actively sensitise members of the civil society to their roles in combating the twin-scourge of money laundering and terrorist financing, particularly that of taking the AML/CFT message to the grassroots; assist participants to advocate policy development on AML/CFT issues; and strengthen the network of civil society organisations to mount a holistic and aggressive campaign on AML/CFT.