Magharebia (Washington DC)

Mauritania: Nouakchott Event Sheds Light On Money Laundering

Nouakchott — A group of economic experts and finance officials recently gathered in Nouakchott to discuss legal tools and global strategies to quell money laundering.

"Mauritania is very much concerned with globalisation and socio-economic problems - all of which have a deep impact on countries - and dangers such as illegal trafficking, embezzlement and money laundering," Central Bank Of Mauritania (BCM) Governor Sid Ahmed Ould Raiss said at the September 23rd event, organised by the Financial Information Analysis Commission (CANIF).

He added that the Mauritanian government had toughened measures against violators and enacted laws against drug trafficking, money laundering and terror financing. He also said that Mauritania adhered to international documents, such as the Vienna Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and the Palermo Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

Meanwhile, UN Office on Drugs and Crime advisor Ludovic D'Hoore discussed the dangers posed by transcontinental crime to development and stability. He evoked the efforts of his institution to eradicate the problem and support countries and organisations active in the fight against money laundering networks.

This phenomenon, D'Hoore said, should be evaluated so that the international community can join forces in putting an end to it.

According to legal expert Dop Abdul Kader, Mauritania is "at the forefront of the money laundering problem".

Criminality is on the rise, he warned. "The port of Nouadhibou has recently become a trans-shipment point for cocaine from South America intended for the European market. There aren't enough people in charge and they are poorly trained," he said.

"Mauritania has the right legislative and regulatory system to tackle these problems: the law on money laundering and terror financing (2005-48) was passed on July 27th, 2005 but the authorities (police, justice, customs) have been deprived for too long of the adequate normative and structural tools and therefore aren't quite operational," Abdul Kader commented.

The expert mentioned that Mauritania had created an "ad hoc inter-ministerial commission chaired by the BCM", which comprises representatives from the interior, justice and defence ministers, as well as customs, the gendarmerie and advisors to the BCM governor.

"The mission of this commission is to draft all the legal provisions relating to anti-money laundering and terrorism funding, to define a strategy for the future and to co-ordinate the establishment of future operational structures. The commission is also tasked with identifying those sectors in which external assistance may be necessary," Abdul Kader said.

He called for implementing a "global strategy" to tackle the phenomenon.

To confront the problem of illicit money transactions, Mauritania created the CANIF.

"As a result, many former finance executives as well as employees at the CANIF, the Treasury Department, customs, police, gendarmerie and justice regularly receive training and familiarise themselves with the money laundering issue," said former BCM executive Ba Mohamed.

Banks play a special role in quelling money laundering, according to economist Ahmed Ould Moktar. They "should collect enough information on their clients to ensure that operations and transactions they take on for them have nothing to do with money laundering or any other illegal activity", he said.

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