May 15, 2012, 11:20 AM
Experts in the insurance industry have stated that the industry is not viewed as a highly vulnerable sector to money laundering and financial terrorism but an attractive conduit for economic criminals.
The experts recently held a four-day conference on the role of insurance industry in combating money laundering and other financial crimes, at Jerma Beach Hotel.
According to Dawda Sarge, the President of Insurance Association of The Gambia (IAG), insurance products or contracts on offer have been found to be susceptible vectors for money laundering and financial terrorism. He said that in 2004, the International Association of Insurance Supervisors, a recognised body that sets international regulatory standards for the global insurance industry had introduced a guidance paper on anti-money laundering in consideration of FATF 40+9 recommendations.
Mr. Sarge further stated that this guidance paper is considered the international rolodex for effective AML/CFT programmes in the insurance industry.
"I am quite confident that the conference will provide participants with a unique opportunity to hear the perspectives of these experts on the key challenges of money laundering, financial terrorism and other financial crimes to the insurance industry," he stated.
He urged the West African Insurance Companies Association (GIABA) and other sub-regional organisations to deepen such collaboration for a stronger position in tackling money laundering and financial terrorism challenges.
For his part, Mr. William Coker, the Secretary-General cum CEO of the West African Insurance Companies Association revealed that the industry is an integral part of the financial industry in any country, and as such is as vulnerable and prone to abuse and misuse by anyone as in other sectors of financial industry.
"Thus, the same pitfalls and experiences that other sectors fall victims to, are also present in the insurance industry and we need to be aware of them if we are to do our part in minimising their effects if not eliminate the scourge totally," he maintained.
According to Mr. Coker, the West African Insurance Companies Association which was founded in 1973 has been holding educational conferences in all its member countries on rotational basis.
Noting that they host insurance industries in these countries and have always lived up to the challenges of organising these conferences successfully, he said, WAICA operates three different projects, including capacity-building for its members, in collaboration with Africa Development Bank.