Member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have been advised to step up efforts in the fight against the money laundering and terrorism financing in the sub-region.
The Inter- Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, (GIABA) which made this call at the annual briefing session for ECOWAS Ambassadors and development partners in Dakar, Senegal, said that for the region to deepen its integration in line with the sub- regional body’s ’ Vision 2020 agenda, there was the urgent need to improve on the political commitment of member States in the implementation of Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes in the area.
Director General, GIABA, Dr. Abdullahi Shehu, explained that the report of GIABA’s recent evaluation of member countries showed that most of them were still struggling with the implementation of the old Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards.
He said that the poor compliance was a pointer to the level of vulnerability of the financial systems to money laundering and other related crimes.
The body’s boss further said that the major concern, was preventive measures being taken by financial institutions and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs); institutional and other measures necessary in the system, and the nine special recommendations on terrorism financing, stressing that the weaknesses in these areas portend a major source of worry in the fight against the scourges in the sub-region.
“Another area of success for GIABA was in the establishment of financial intelligence units. However, some of the FIUs in the region are operating sub-optimally, hence the capacity to receive, analyses and disseminate suspicious transaction reports that facilitate investigation and prosecution is impaired,” he said.