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More civil society organisations recruited to fight money laundering

Jul 26, 2017, 10:45 AM | Article By: Lamin Jahateh

 Increasing number of civil society organisations (CSOs) from all over West Africa are being armed with the tools and knowledge to effectively fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.

The latest batch of at least 50 CSOs from the sub-region has benefited from a three-day sensitisation workshop on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Requirements in ECOWAS Member States.

The forum was organised by the Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) for CSOs that are actively involved in good governance, corruption, and other related issues.  About 50 of such organisations are trained by GIABA every year.

The 5th edition of the annual forum, held on 24 and 26 July 2017, was hosted by The Gambia at a hotel in Kololi.

Colonel Adama Coulibaly, director general of GIABA, said CSOs, because of their influence in the economic, political and social spheres, are a fundamental stakeholder in the AML/CFT process.

It is because of such influence, in addition to their work in the areas of peace, security and justice, GIABA has been making efforts to get the civil society pay specific attention to AML/CFT.

Col Coulibaly said as non-state actors, CSOs must work closely with all stakeholders to beam the searchlight to other areas such as conscious efforts to fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.

He said the three-day workshop was also “a melting pot” for consolidating the partnership between the CSOs and GIABA, as well as between the CSOs and the political authorities in the member states of the region.

Director of Gambia Finance Intelligence Unit, Yaya Camara, said the workshop was designed to provide adequate knowledge on the nexus between AML/CFT and CSOs.

In particular, the participants would learn about the international standards on AML/CFT, and the Ecowas AML/CFT framework, Mr Camara said.

Ansumana Touray, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance, said because CSOs are found almost everywhere and involved in everything, the role of the civil society organisations in fighting money laundering and terrorist financing cannot be overemphasized.

CSOs increasingly employ extensive networks to pursue their activities and to try to influence policies on a broad range of issues.  Their influence expands to citizens, legislators and governments.

“As such, for the issue of money laundering, terrorism and terrorism financing to be better tackled, there is the need for proper awareness amongst CSOs,” Mr Touray said.

He reiterated that there is a need for continuous improvement on the capacities of CSOs to better position them in championing the fight against money laundering, terrorism and terrorist financing.

“As our aim is to ensure general awareness on AML/CFT, training the CSOs could go a long way in ensuring that the knowledge and awareness get to the cross section of our societies,” Touray emphasised.

Solicitor general of The Gambia, Cherno Marenah, said the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing is “a herculean task” requiring concerted, coordinated, corporative and collaborative efforts by all stakeholders with distinct but complementary role.

“The role of CSOs in this fight cannot be overemphasised,” he said.  “This is because they are a critical component of a country’s governance system who are found almost everywhere and are involved in nearly everything.”

It is expected that the workshop would enable CSOs undertake advocacies and influence the effective implementation of AML/CFT at national and regional levels, and evolve an effective strategy for the establishment of a robust West African Civil Society network committed to promoting the implementation of effective AML/CFT regime in the sub-region.

GIABA was established to protect the member states’ economies against abuse and the laundering of proceeds of crime.