Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA)
recently sensitised religious leaders and institutions on Anti-Money Laundering
and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).
Muazi Umar, GIABA director of policy and research said they hoped that the sensitisation will be a springboard for renewed commitment of all religious and opinion leaders to identify the key roles they must play in raising awareness and shaping the morals of their congregations and followers through the force of moral persuasive messages.
“It is a common belief that religious leaders would considerate influence among their followers. We must be bold to speak the truth at all times. You must speak against evil, drive the good path, counsel the bad and report obvious destructive evil to the appropriate authority where necessary,” he said.
Mr. Umar said the increase in illicit income-generation crimes such as corruption, kidnapping and human and drug trafficking around the world is worrisome and called for all to play their roles in ensuring peaceful, secure and economically viable nation and religions.
Manding Saidykhan, representative of the interior ministry said religious leaders and faith-based organisations play an important role in the society, saying Gambian societies are blessed to be among the most religious tolerant in the world. “Money laundering and terrorism financing pose serious challenges to society with very detrimental impacts on the internal security of a country. This is particularly true for West Africa, where predicate offences such as drug trafficking, fraud amongst many others are still prevalent,” he stressed.
Mr. Saidykhan reaffirmed Gambia government and his ministry’s commitment in combating money-laundering and terrorism financing.
Alagie Darboe, director of Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of The Gambia said it is no secret that religious extremism and terrorist activities in West Africa is on the rise.
He said the activity of extremist religious groups in some countries within the sub-region continue to position threat to the rest of the countries in the region. “Worldwide estimates of money laundered annually range between $1.5 and $3.3. Recent research studies revealed that illicit financial flows from Africa could amount to as much as $50 billion per year,” he revealed.