#Article (Archive)

GIABA briefs ECOWAS ambassadors, partners

Apr 30, 2012, 2:27 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

The Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) held a day’s annual briefing session for ECOWAS ambassadors and development partners last Friday in Senegal.

GIABA, a specialized institution of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, as well as Financial Action Task Force-Styled Regional Body (FRSB) was established by ECOWAS leaders in 2000, with the mandate to protect the national economies and financial system of member States from abuse and laundering the proceeds of crime.

The 38th ECOWAS summit on 2nd July 2010 in Sal, Cape Verde, had approved the recommendation of the 64th ordinary session of the council of ministers requiring the community institutions to organize regular information sharing sessions for ambassadors/representatives of member countries on their activities.

In this regard, GIABA being a specialized institution of ECOWAS was mandated to implement these directives.

The objective of the session was to sensitize member states’ ambassadors on programs and activities carried out by GIABA in Senegal and in other member states.

The session which primarily targeted ambassadors of member states to Senegal included Senegalese ministers, members of the diplomatic corps, civil societies, national institutions, international organizations, all FATF member representatives and the press.

The session sought to provide the attendees with opportunities to fully understand the role of GIABA in the global fight against money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF) in the region, as well as for top government officials to appreciate the efforts being made in the region to address the vulnerabilities in the AML/CFT regimes of member states.

The session also provided an update on the revised FATF 40 Recommendations and its implications to ECOWAS member states, and underlined the importance of strong political commitment in implementing AML/CFT in West Africa.

In a similar development, GIABA also held a two-day World Press Conference, bringing journalists and media executives from various media houses within and outside the West African region, from 27th to 28th April 2012, at Radisson Blu Hotel, Dakar, Senegal.

GIABA recognizes the importance of the media in raising public awareness in the areas of money laundering and terrorist financing, and has devised different strategies in sharing necessary information with the press, one of which is the periodic press briefing.

The World Press Conference seeks to raise awareness of the ills of money laundering and terrorist financing, and the need to report on financial crimes as well as provide documentation and research materials to assist journalists in their reporting.

The high point of the event was a presentation of GIABA’s activities and scorecard by the Director General of GIABA, Dr. Abdullahi Shehu, and the presentation of the 2011 GIABA Annual Report.

This gave members of the press a tool to report on the scourges of money laundering and terrorist financing in the West African economies.

It will also assist them in their duty to carry out investigative journalism on typologies, trends and practices and it was expected that, at the end of the conference, the media would be better aware and equipped on money laundering and terrorist financing issues.

One other outcome, it was hoped, will be enhanced coverage on financial crimes investigative reporting in member states, as well as lead to improved knowledge of the citizenry on the problems of money laundering and terrorist financing.