A four-day sub-regional workshop on investigating and detecting money laundering and other financial crimes is currently underway at the Sheraton Hotel in Brufut.
The workshop, organised by the Inter-governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a branch of ECOWAS that deals with money laundering and terrorists financing, among other financial crimes in the sub-region brought together investigators from the five English-speaking countries of ECOWAS, namely Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and The Gambia. It aims to equip participants to be more professional in their work, and to help combat the growing menace of money laundering and terrorists financing.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Ousman Sonko, The Gambia's Minister of Interior stated that the issue of money laundering and financing of terrorism is a major concern for many governments in many parts of the world, and the
"Typologies have revealed numerous money laundering cases in the region, while cases related to the financing of terrorism are becoming more frequent in most countries. That is the very reason why governments in the region have an obligation to act together and work with other concerned nations and international bodies to combat money laundering and its associated crimes/ vices," Minister Sonko noted.
"It goes without saying that the West Africa region is one of the least developed regions of the continent, which now faces serious challenges due to its vulnerability to transnational organised crimes, coupled with its limited resources and capacity to respond effectively to these challenges," he revealed.
According to him, it is against this backdrop that one can appreciate the importance and timeliness of the workshop, which he said, cannot be over-emphasised.
"Capacity-building and development is a continuous process, especially in this area of money laundering where the perpetrators keep evolving in their strategies, methods and determination to survive," he remarked.
Dr. Abdullah Shehu, the Director General of GIABA, for his part, said the forum would encourage the participants to develop and share experiences and develop new skills.
According to him, his office attaches great importance to the issue of money laundering and terrorist financing, while imploring the participants to make the best use of the programme.
He commended The Gambia for hosting this very important workshop.
Other speakers included Mr. Ibrahim Bun Sanneh, the Executive Director of National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) cum the GIABA National Correspondent in The Gambia, Simon Davies, an ex metropolitan Police Officer in the UK, now an expert in counter financing of terrorists and anti-money laundering, who all spoke of the importance of the training.