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Gambia’s financial institutions shielded from misuse by money launderers

Jul 28, 2016, 10:15 AM | Article By: Lamin Jahateh

The Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has taken further step to shield banks and insurance companies in The Gambia from being misused to launder money or finance terrorism.

The sub-regional organisation on Wednesday commenced a three-day national workshop on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF) risk assessment for financial institutions and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs). 

DNFBPs include legal advisers and lawyers, accountants, auditors, notaries, and estate agents.

The training workshop, underway at a local hotel in Kololi, is aimed at strengthening the capacity of banks and insurance companies, as well as DNFBPs to undertake robust ML/TF risk assessment in line with international standards.

Adama Coulibaly, director general of GIABA, said the workshop is expected to enhance the capacity of participants in conducting comprehensive ML/TF risk assessment, and build a robust anti-money laundering and counter financing terrorism risk assessment methodology.

It is also designed to help participating institutions and professionals to develop a shared understanding of the concept, approach and methodology for ML/TF risk assessment.

In a statement read on his behalf by GIABA director of programmes and projects Dr Bruno Nduka, Mr Coulibaly said the training activity will also focused on the international standards of tackling ML/TF as set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

FATF, the global pacesetter in the fight against the twin crimes, in 2012 issued a revised standard for combating the menaces.  A critical component of the revised version is the requirement for financial institutions and DNFBPs to identify, assess and understand their ML/TF risks. They are also required to apply a risk-based approach to ensure that measures to prevent or mitigate ML/TF are commensurate with the risks identified.

“Thus, under the new regime, ML/TF risk assessment becomes the first step financial institutions and DNFBPs must undertake in the designed and implementation of their anti-money laundering and counter financing terrorism programmes,” GIABA’s DG said.

Governor Amadou Colley of the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) said the three-day national workshop will further enhance the capacities of participants to effectively complement the government’s commitment in the fight against ML/TF.

In a statement read on his behalf by CBG director of financial supervision, Essa Drammeh, Governor Colley said the fight against ML/TF requires concerted efforts at national, regional and global levels.

He said the fight is becoming increasingly demanding due to the increasing complexities and vulnerabilities.

The director general of the Gambia Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Yahya Camara, who is also the GIABA national correspondent, said ML/TF have serious consequences on financial institutions and DNFBPs.

“Therefore, it is necessary for them to assess money laundering and terrorist financing risks by assessing the threats and vulnerabilities with a view to adopting risk-based approach,” he said.

He pointed out that with such approach, more resources are directed to high risk areas so as to effectively combat the menace of ML/TF.

Camara said the training workshop will help those institutions that have started implementing the risk-based approach to learn new skills to improve on it.

Participants from institutions that are yet to implement the approach are expected to acquire the requisite skills to be able to conduct risk assessment, and adopt the risk-based approach in their institutions.