The Center Against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Liberia (CAMTEFIL) is demanding a worth analysis of government officials and even private individuals in an effort to fight money laundering and drugs trafficking in the country.
Edwin W. Harris, Jr., National Executive Director of the anti-money laundering and drugs trafficking organization, averred that there are too "much dirty money" in the country and individuals were trying to clean their money acquired from illegal means, and as such, a worth analysis is necessary to determine the source of these money.
"There is too much dirty money in this country, we should not see new buildings, new businesses as investment or development, people are finding means to clean their dirty money and at the end, Liberia will suffer," Harris asserted.
Speaking at a one-day symposium under the theme: "building a concerted effort in the fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and illicit drug trafficking in Liberia" organized by CAMTEFIL, held at the YMCA auditorium, Harris said there is no reason, while Mr. Robert Sirleaf, whose mother, President Sirleaf publicly said worked on a pro-bono basis at the National Oil Company of Liberia(NOCAL) should have a humanitarian foundation, a football club and other businesses without known source of such money.
"People are cleaning money they got either through corruption, bribery and other criminal means, dirty money, and the only way we can know the source of these money is to do worth analysis and I call on the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission to take the lead, not only focus on these smaller cases of corruption, it needs to tackle the bigger things hampering this country.
The exchange rate is going up, while there are other things responsible, there are still other reasons, there are people with too much money who want to get it out of the country and they need United States dollars, so all these things are affecting the country," said Harris.
He challenged the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission to take the lead in conducting worth analysis on the son of President, Mr. Robert Sirleaf and others who are claiming to be business tycoons to know the sources of their money.
The anti-money laundering specialist said all the predicate crimes that give rise to money laundering are very visible in Liberia, naming corruption, embezzlement, tax eviction, bribery and other crimes as those that are common in Liberia and giving rise to money laundering.
He said money laundering does not take place when other crimes such as those named above are not committed by individuals involved in the act.
"Like I see one gas station here which is owned by a president from a neighboring country, people see it as investment, but those are some of the ways criminal money can be cleaned, it is easy to say I got my money from gas stations and other businesses I am doing in Liberia and we sit here and see these things," the anti-money laundering specialist stated.
He continued: "There are many ways people clean their money they put up decent buildings, open stores and we say it is investment by the time their money is cleaned, these businesses collapse, that is why you see many businesses closing after operating for short time, drugs kingpins are cleaning their money under the canopy of doing business in Liberia."
Harris said drugs use and abuse is killing the youth of the country and as such concrete actions must be taken to raid the country of drugs.
He said Liberia is being used as a transit point for drugs because criminals with money come under the guise of investors and erect one building where they sit to transport their drugs and clean their money.
Center Against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Liberia with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa is currently carrying out a project creating awareness against money laundering and drugs trafficking.
Col. Sam Lomax, Chief of Operations of the Protective and Internal Security Division of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, who spoke at the symposium, described money laundering as a serious issue in the entire sub region.
"Money laundering is a serious issue within the sub region and not only Liberia.
However, Liberia is being considered by criminals as boiling point for several criminal conducts, and as such, it requires the consolidated efforts of every Liberian to safeguard the country," said Col. Lomax.
He admitted that security officers at various ports of entry are finding it difficult to do their work because of lack of equipment that could detect people transporting drugs.
"People are getting advance in trafficking drugs and we do not have scanners and other equipment at some of these places, so it is making our work difficult," he added.