15 February 2013

Gambia Inaugurates Financial Intelligence Unit

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs yesterday February 14 inaugurated a Financial Intelligence Unit at a ceremony held at the central Bank in Banjul.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony the Minister of Finance and economic affairs Abdou Colley said in April 2008, the Gambia as part of her engagement with the inter-governmental action group against money laundering in West Africa (GIABA),

a specialized agency of ECOWAS, conducted an on-site mutual evaluation exercise to assess the country's level of compliance with Anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism standards; adding that in November of the same year, the GIABA plenary adopted report identifying number of deficiencies in the legal and institutional frameworks of the country for which according to him government of the Gambia was required to take action.

The Finance Minister said in order to remedy the situation, and being our legislation in line with international standards, the Money Laundering Act of 2003 was repealed with the enactment of the Anti-money laundering and combating of terrorist Financing Act 2012. He said this new legislation ensures that the provision of our laws are in line with the financial action task force's 40 recommendations against money laundering and the 9 special recommendations against terrorism financing (commonly known as FATF 40+9

Minister Colley emphasises the importance of an effective and functional financial intelligence unit, noting that it is not only helping the country meet it's requirement as per the GIABA technical commission recommendations but also due to our vulnerability as a small economy with a developing financial sector, within a fragile sub-region.

He said the financial intelligence unit operating as a unit under the Central Bank has now become fully independent.

He asserted that it is tasked with among other things, assisting in the identification of proceeds of criminal conduct and the combating of money laundering and terrorist financial (FIU). He said it is vested with functions and powers necessary for the effective discharge of the objective for which it is established. He said the FIU Board comprises individual from institutions that play critical roles at different levels at the government machinery in the fight against money laundering.

The governing body of the financial intelligence unit comprises

(1) a representative of the central bank, who shall be the Chairperson, The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry responsible for Finance, The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry responsible for the Interior, one Senior Police Officer not below the rank of Commissioner, appointed by the Minister Of Interior, the Director of the Financial intelligence unit, the Commissioner General of the Gambia Revenue Authority and the Solicitor General and legal Secretary.

The Governor of the Central Bank and Chairman of board of the Financial Intelligence Unit Amadou Colley said today represents a milestone in the AMZ/CFT history of this country.

He said it is a known fact that the negativities of money laundering and terrorist financing transcend borders noting that the fight against these menaces has attracted several global, regional and national initiatives.

He added that in the Gambia the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing dates back to 2002, with the enactment of the Anti-terrorism Act 2002. He said the Gambia enacted money laundering act 2003 in response to various international conventions to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. Governor Colley reveals that at a stakeholder conference in 2005, it was agreed that the Central Bank of the Gambia, given its experience as the regulatory and supervisory authority for financial matters is better equipped to implement the Act. Consequently in 2006, the Central Bank of the Gambia was appointed by the Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs to implement the AML Act 2003 which led to the establishment of a financial intelligence unit (FIU) under the financial supervision department (FSD) of Central Bank in 2007.

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