Experts from seven West African countries and international organisations began a three-day meeting Monday July 9th in Accra to tighten the noose on money laundering and terrorist activities.
Participants from Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone will conclude by drafting a National Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) Strategy for ECOWAS English speaking countries.
Ms. Stella Attakpah, Programme Officer, Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in West Africa (GIABA), said it was vital that all member states developed effective AML/CFT strategies in response to the menace posed by money launderers.
Their activities are serious threats to the peace and security of the international community because their transactions were often across borders in order to disguise the origin of their monies.
“The establishment of GIABA in 2000 by the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of the ECOWAS is one of the major responses to deal with this scourge to make sure that crime does not pay and help commit further crime,” she said.
“This is a practical demonstration of the strong political commitment of all member states in our region to combat money laundering and possible terrorist financing.”
She called for a strong government support and commitment from the private sector to build an effective Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Terrorist Financing regime.
Attakpah said the region would attract genuine investors and investments to the region if the region was able to fight organised criminals, money launderers and terrorist financiers.
Ms. Delphine Schantz, Anti-Money Laundering Adviser, Global Programme against Money Laundering, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNIODC), said because most organised criminal activities, including money laundering and terrorist financing were cross-border activities, it was necessary to put in place effective deterrence, prevention, detection and disruptive measures at all times at the national levels.
“Developing a fully fledged AML/CFT strategy sets out the framework of measures to deploy to ensure integrity, harm perpetrators and save lives.
“Each country has its own vulnerability to crime and terrorism and each of them needs to determine what are the loopholes or inadequacies in their own systems to clearly define goals and ways to address these challenges in a reasonable time frame.”